Lessons from the floods – communicating in a crisis and supporting your community | Macro

Lessons from the floods – communicating in a crisis and supporting your community


By Hugh Henderson, Director of Consultancy and Solutions

The recent storms and flooding in parts of the UK have highlighted yet again the need to have Business Continuity Plans in place; but plans on their own are not enough. Whether you’re a FM provider, an occupier or a service provider, it’s vital that we not only plan to mitigate the impact of any incident or emergency but we must also make sure we escalate and communicate the facts to everyone involved.  

We know we need to have carried out risk assessments and we’ve probably planned for most eventualities; trained our teams and put our emergency kits in a safe place but when the button gets pressed do we always respond in the way we expect?  Experience shows that sometimes the local on-site teams and their managers higher up in the organisation cope well but don’t always escalate the issues.  

It’s important to keep everyone in the loop. All clients and customers, building users, service providers, landlords, local authorities and emergency services can have an interest in what’s happening – they need to ensure the right resources are directed to the priority areas and they need to assess the impact on operations.  Not least we want to ensure the safety of all. 

It comes down to effective communication and never is this more important than when faced with a crisis.  The guiding principles must be: 

  • Keep a clear head, listen to those around you and make clear and firm decisions.
  • Know who you need to keep informed and ensure contact details are updated and easily available.
  • Don’t hesitate to escalate an incident – it’s better to escalate early than be too late to let everyone know.
  • Use all means of communication at your disposal – power might be cut, mobile services may be down, e-mails might not get through – what is plan B… or C or D?
  • Keep your communications clear and concise.
  • Keep a record or log of events and communications.
  • Update everyone regularly – don’t put staff at risk or cause unnecessary inconvenience.
  • Learn from every incident.
  • Review and update your procedures.


And once you’ve made safe and you’re in control, think about how you could help your neighbours and your local community.  The football players of Carlisle United set a fantastic example by helping others in the community.  You can often do the same.  What provision do you make in your plans to help the local community in times of crisis?  Do you assign staff, do you have space you can offer, can you use vehicles to help?  Does your organisation have specialist skills and expertise that could help other in times of crisis? 

We never work in isolation; when nature, the elements or others forces threaten our businesses, our communities or our livelihoods then effective communication and thoughtful, timely responses will minimise the impact and help everyone get back to normal as quickly as possible.  

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