Hotel Online  Special Report
The Global Hospitality Advisor

The "Perfect Storm"

Time for a Disaster Plan Audit
10 Questions to Help You Decide ...
September 2001
Worst Hurricanes in a Century. 

Many scientists are now predicting that the Caribbean and entire East Coast of the United States - from Florida to New England - could be in for more and bigger hurricanes. They may be the worst in a century, and the onslaught is likely to continue for years, perhaps decades, to come, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

According to articles just published in the Journal of Science, the Atlantic water breeding grounds for hurricanes likely to hit the East Coast and the Caribbean have been warming up, and wind shear has been decreasing. And it only takes a half degree of warmer temperature to make a big difference in fueling these massive storms, according to Stanley B. Goldenberg, who heads National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Hurricane Research Division. 

The NOAA scientists say that slight climate shifts, like those now being documented, are normal, periodic events due to a natural ocean cycle between warm and cool phases of the North Atlantic and Caribbean sea surfaces that last 25 to 40 years each.

Same Cycles that Brought the 1900 Galveston and 1938 NYC Hurricanes. 

The great Galveston Hurricane hit when these same conditions occured, in 1900. From that point until the 1920s, the tropics quieted. Then they turned active again from the '20s until the '60s, during which New York was hit by the 1938 Yankee Clipper Hurricane. Florida and the Carolinas were hit repeatedly. The most powerful to ever strike the United States hit the Florida Keys in 1935. And then things started warming up again as Hurricane Andrew struck in 1992, bringing unprecedented economic devastation - in the neighborhood of $25 billion in the United States alone - along a path through the northwestern Bahamas, the southern Florida peninsula, and south central Louisiana. But the scientists say this is a normal cycling. Why it happens is not understood. But because it's a cycle, they don't believe this current event is related to global warming.

New Major Cycle is Under Way. 

"From 1995 to 2000 we saw the highest level of North Atlantic hurricane activity ever measured," Goldenberg said. "Compared with the previous 24 years, there were twice as many hurricanes in the Atlantic, including two and a half times more major hurricanes - those reaching Category 3 strength with winds reaching more than 110 mph - and more than five times as many hurricanes impacting the Caribbean islands."

Hurricane season began June 1, though the strongest storms tend to form later in the summer and early fall, when the sea, which provides them energy, has warmed. Disaster experts worry that coastal residents have been lulled into a false sense of security by recent quiet years. Also increasing the danger is the fact that the number of people living in coastal areas has skyrocketed in recent years, and that evacuating masses of people in advance of a storm can be chaotic and sometimes dangerous.

Take These Steps Now! 

It is always wise to prepare for disaster - but when a series of record hurricane seasons are expected, it is sheer folly to ignore the warnings. According to Julie Rider, JMBM partner focused on disaster preparedness, "NOW is the time to check your disaster checklist, designate your Disaster Team, check your insurance coverage and rehearse your disaster plan."

Time for a Disaster Plan Audit? 
10 Questions to Help You Decide ...
JMBM offers the following 10-question quiz to help you decide if your hotel is prepared for the next disaster. If your property is immune to disasters, read no further. For everyone else, see how you do on the following quiz. 
1. Do you have a Disaster Plan? Does it include an up-to-date Disaster Team? 
2. Do you know why it is critical to have your own Disaster Team (and not the insurance company's adjuster) at the disaster site within 24 hours of the event? 
3. Do you have a complete contact list including hotel employees and management, the Red Cross, FEMA and others? 
4. Have you made plans for alternate guest accommodations, in the event the disaster renders the premises uninhabitable? 
5. Have you made plans to control adverse publicity by limiting the statements made to the press by representatives of the hotel? 
6. Do you have any procedures or plans for victim care? As well as for their families? 
7. Do you know what your responsibilities are to your employees in the event a disaster precludes their return to work for a substantial period of time? Is this reflected in your Employee Handbook? 
8. Have you reviewed your insurance coverage in the last 12 months to be sure that you have both the right types of insurance and the right amounts of coverage? 
9. Do you know where the hotel's important records are stored, including insurance policies? Do you have extra copies of those records off site? 
10. Do you know where the records are maintained that the hotel would need in order to substantiate property damage and profit losses? Do you have extra copies of those records off-site?

If you answered no to three or more questions, or no to either question 1 or 2, you are in dire need of a Disaster Plan Audit. Contact Julia Rider at (310) 201-3527 or [email protected].


Julia Rider provides JMBM's Global Hospitality Group clients with a broad range of litigation assistance, including disaster audits and preparedness. She has extensive experience representing hospitality clients in disputes arising from major disasters, including insurance claims. Contact Julia to help with your disaster-related issues at (310) 201-3527 or [email protected].

The Global Hospitality Group(r) is a registered servicemark of Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro LLP

For more information:
Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro LLP
web site:
Email Jim Butler at [email protected]
Or contact 
Jim Butler at the Firm
 Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro LLP
  2121 Avenue of the Stars
 Los Angeles, CA 90067
     Phone: 310-201-3526 
The premier hospitality practice
in a full-service law firm
Also See: When is an Apartment a Hotel ... and Who Cares? / The Global Hospitality Advisor / JMBM / September 2001 
Richard Kessler's Grand Theme Hotels - Interview with GHG Chairman  Jim Butler / March 2001
Stephen Rushmore's  Industry Trends / Top Markets, Predictions & Opportunities  / Jan 2001
Outlook 2001: A Roundtable Discussion The Global Hospitality Advisor / Jan 2001
Perspectives on Hotel Financing in 2001; Jim Butler, JMBM's Global Hospitality Group Chairman, Interviews Two Active Players in Hotel Finance / Jan 2001 
Robert J. Morse: Millenniumís New President / Interview with GHG Chairman Jim Butler / Nov 2000 
Special Reports / Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro LLP

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