Prepare for Hurricane Irma

Updated September 9, 2017

Hurricane Irma is now projected to affect the western cost of Florida, and then move through almost the entirety of Georgia and Tennessee, with significant impact to northern Alabama and Mississippi, and Kentucky. For a current and accurate visual of the storm’s projected path, please visit

September 6, 2017

ArtsReady Alert/Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma is projected to reach south Florida and the Southeast U.S. beginning Friday. At this time, Irma is a Category 5 hurricane and will cause damage in many areas. If you have an ArtsReady/readiness plan, we hope that triggering it into action provides you with the ability to prepare for the storm. If not, we encourage you to take a few basic steps to prepare your office/venue/studio for the potential impact before departing for your personal preparation – unless you are under an evacuation order, in which case you should follow the instructions of local/state officials immediately.

If you aren’t in the hurricane’s path, please use this time to take a look at your own readiness planning in the event of a future emergency. Visit ArtsReady to start or build upon your readiness plan; sign up for free webinars on a variety of readiness and disaster planning offered through the Performing Arts Readiness project; and sign up to get regular information on grants, trainings and programs to improve your organization’s readiness and resiliency (much of this project’s content is relevant to arts organizations and artists of all disciplines).

Be Prepared!

• Track the storm via the National Hurricane Center,

• For Floridians, visit the Hurricane Irma page of the Florida Division of Emergency Management,

• For those in other Southeastern states, track the path of Hurricane Irma at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency,

• Assign a readiness/emergency leader for your organization through whom all communications and information should be relayed. Decide who makes the decision about suspending operations/events, and how those decisions are communicated.

• Gather your staff and review your disaster plan today. No disaster plan? Put that at the top of the to-do list once the storm passes (and hope you didn’t need it this time).

• If you have a disaster plan, make sure everyone has a printed copy to take home. An electronic version may be useless if you lose power.

• Make sure staff, volunteer, and board contact lists are up to date. Determine how you will communicate with one another before, during, and after the storm. Text messaging is sometimes possible when cellphone systems are down.

• Make sure your insurance and disaster recovery vendor contact information is readily available.

• Ensure you can carry out banking activity remotely, and that staff can work remotely if your offices/facility are inaccessible.

• Back up electronic records and store the back-ups off-site or in the cloud.

• Determine the process for postponing/cancelling events, if necessary, and how you will communicate changes to staff, volunteers, artists and audience members/visitors.

• If practical, de-install exhibits that may be threatened by weather or water and remove to a safer location.

• Secure outdoor sculptures, furniture, bike racks, signage, etc. – anything that can become a projectile in strong winds.

• Move costumes, scenery, instruments, valuable equipment and collections that are in areas vulnerable to flooding (i.e., the floor, the basement) or susceptible to rain (near windows or under roofs) out of harm’s way.

• If you have time, cut lengths of plastic sheeting to be able to throw them over shelves, cabinets, or equipment should the building envelope be compromised.

• Know the location and shut-off procedures for water, electricity, and gas and assign responsibilities for securing and shutting down your facility.

• Review individual or family plans. You’ll feel better attending to your organization knowing that your loved ones are safe.

• Download the FEMA mobile app for disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips. The app (available in English and Spanish) provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters.

• Download the free ERS: Emergency Response and Salvage app, based on the Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel,

• For tips on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane, go to

• Keep this 24/7 hotline number handy: 202.661.8068. The National Heritage Responders, a team of trained conservators and collections care professionals administered by the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, are available 24/7 to provide advice on collections and material artifacts.

• Download FEMA’s “After the Flood: Advice for Salvaging Damaged Family Treasures” fact sheet, with tips and resources for individuals and institutions,

• Familiarize yourself with the disaster declaration process in case one is declared for your state,

Thanks to our colleagues at the Heritage Emergency National Task Force for many of these tips.

For artists, our colleagues at CERF+ ( offer the Studio Protector online guide (, a source for emergency preparedness and recovery information for artists. Visit the site now for suggested measures to take in advance of and in the aftermath of a hurricane.

Also, POBA | Where the Arts Live has recently published an edition of their Creative Futures blog focusing on ways for individual artists to prepare for natural disasters and threats to their collection/s as well as apply for relief when the unthinkable happens. It provides links to many useful sources of information for use before, during, and after a natural disaster. The web address to access this resource is

General Weather Event Resources:

This Hurricane Preparedness Checklist from our colleagues at AgilityRecovery ( walks through the safe closure of your facility, as well as critical steps during and after the storm.

FEMA’s website has check lists and resources for before, during and after a hurricane as well as a disaster preparedness and response mobile app. As well, recommended steps specifically for cultural organizations are listed at the bottom of this alert.

The American Red Cross has a suite of well-designed apps to cover a wide range of emergencies, including hurricanes. Each app covers what to do if you are in the middle of an emergency, next steps, and preparedness tips.

If your facility is impacted, there are a number of resources to assist you:

And more resources are listed at

It’s important for ArtsReady and our colleagues who help the arts community with readiness, response and recovery to know about the impact of such events on artists and arts organizations. Please be in touch with us when it is safe to do so to share your situation.

- Team ArtsReady


Mollie Quinlan-Hayes



Critical Function



communications, facility, disaster, hurricane

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