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National Restaurant Association - Hurricane Michael

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A statement from Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association President & CEO Carol Dover

As Floridians brace for Hurricane Michael, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association has begun work to help members, residents and visitors alike prepare for the storm and its aftermath. Members of FRLA staff have taken our ESF-18 seat at the state Emergency Operations Center where we will work with the Florida Retail Association and the Department of Economic Opportunity to help coordinate and respond to lodging and food needs for emergency responders and evacuees.

We have encouraged members to prioritize safety in a variety of ways beyond basic storm preparation. FRLA has encouraged members to waive cancellation fees as the storm approaches. Our primary goal is always the safety of visitors, and we want to keep them out of harm’s way. Additionally, we have urged all members to extend hospitality to pets by relaxing any pet restrictions they may have. Many people are reluctant to leave their feathered and furred friends behind, and some will refuse to leave unless they can bring their pets with them. We hope that relaxed restrictions and pet-friendly accommodations will help motivate those in the path of the storm to heed evacuation warnings. To assist after the storm, FRLA has asked our members to register with FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, which provides short-term lodging assistance to evacuees who cannot return home immediately following a disaster.

FRLA will continue to monitor the storm and stands ready to assist members, residents and visitors however we can before, during and after Hurricane Michael.

The following are hurricane resources to use before and during the hurricane:

What to do as Hurricane Michael approaches

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association strongly encourages businesses to stay informed and develop a plan during the state’s Hurricane season — June 1 to Nov. 30. The FRLA and VISIT FLORIDA actively participate and assist the State Emergency Response Team during emergency events as a member of ESF 18. The purpose of Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18 is to coordinate local, state and federal agency actions that will provide immediate and short-term assistance for the needs of business, industry and economic stabilization. For weather alert updates, stay informed via the weather advisory located on the VISIT FLORIDA homepage.

Hurricane resources to use before and during the hurricane

Get a plan: The FloridaDisaster.Biz Business Disaster Toolkit provides businesses with valuable information regarding preparedness, response, and recovery issues. Click here to learn how to prepare your business BEFORE disaster strikes, help keep your workplace and employees safe DURING and what businesses should do AFTER to recover and rebuild.

A disaster of any size could have an impact on your business. Taking the steps to build a business disaster plan and encourage your employees to create a family emergency plan can reduce the impact on your business. It is important to consider how a disaster could affect your employees, customers, and workplace. Go to www.FLGetAPlan.com to build your customized business disaster plan and encourage your employees to build a customized family emergency plan.

USDA food safety tips: Click here for a list of recommendations to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events. In the wake of a Hurricane, there may likely be power outages and flooding.  Both pose a risk to the integrity of food and water.  Food safety requirements should be adhered to post-disaster if you are serving food to the public and to your own family. Be certain refrigerated food has been stored at correct temperatures of 41°F or below. Frozen food should be maintained at 0°F or below. Thawing should be conducted using only correct methods. Food packaging should be intact with no trace of water intrusion or exposure. In addition, if food has been exposed to storm-related water or debris of any type, it should be discarded should not be served. If food is in question remember, when in doubt, throw it out. For information about food safety requirements visit the USDA or Florida’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants, to learn guidelines for emergency recovery.

Emergency lodging assistance: In response to hurricanes, FEMA activates the Emergency Lodging Assistance program. All lodging operators are encouraged to sign-up here. The ELA provides lodging reimbursement for pre-qualified individuals from designated disaster areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency created the ELA program to provide temporary shelter as a result of a Federal disaster declaration. As administrator for this FEMA-funded preparedness initiative, CLC provides rules-based payments for all qualified applicants at participating hotels. Lodging properties can review frequently asked questions here, call 1-866-545-9865 or email femahousing@clclodging.com for assistance. Individuals or families searching for lodging may contact FEMA at 1-800-621-3362.

Provide emergency accommodations: Lodging operators are strongly encouraged to waive cancellation fees and to not require minimum stays for displaced evacuees, first responders and utility workers. Those seeking available lodging may reserve by brand here and/or find available rooms here.

FRLA strongly urges its members, and the industry at large, to consider waiving normal pet restrictions and fees for displaced evacuees seeking shelter. Search for pet-friendly lodging on BringFido.com or PetFriendlyTravel.com. Intrastate and interstate animal movement information is available here.

FloridaDisaster.biz: FloridaDisaster.biz is a partnership between the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM). The FloridaDisaster.biz Resource System is used to provide a centralized location for resource requests from voluntary agencies, and to give businesses in the area who want to help an avenue to assist their neighbors. Resources are both requested and offered through the system. First, please register the business on FloridaDisaster.biz to utilize the resource management system. If your business was impacted by a recent hurricane, we encourage you to fill out the Business Damage Assessment Form. The information provided in this survey will be shared among various state and local agencies to expedite implementation of appropriate disaster relief programs for businesses.

Open/closed business status reporting: The ESF18 State Emergency Response Team is particularly interested in your store’s open/closed status, if a store is partially open or open with reduced resources, what challenges are they facing, if a store is closed, what obstacles do they have to reopening and what is the anticipated timeline of reopening. To provide this information, if you are registered with the Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center, and your locations are currently populated, login here and utilize the “Status Update” tool to identify your open/closed status. Businesses may also report this information via email to esf18@em.myflorida.com and via the Private Sector Hotline is 850-410-1403.

Protect your business from price gouging: As the entire state of Florida is under a declared state of emergency, Florida’s price gouging law applies statewide. State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, ice, gas, hotels, lumber and water during this declared state of emergency.  Specifically, F.S. 501.160 states that during a state of emergency, it is unlawful to sell, lease, offer to sell, or offer for lease essential commodities, dwelling units, or self-storage facilities for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency, unless the seller can justifying the price by showing increases in its prices or market trends. For more information on price gouging, please click here. Report an instance of price gouging or contractor fraud during a declared state of emergency to the Attorney General’s Office online at www.myfloridalegal.com or by calling toll-free at (866) 9-NO-SCAM. Additionally, you may report unlicensed contractors to the Department of Business & Professional Regulation online at www.myfloridalicense.com or by calling (866) 532-1440.

Restaurateurs: Here’s how to prepare for the hurricane

Restaurant operators must take precautions to keep themselves, their employees, guests and businesses safe as Hurricane Michael barrels toward Florida.

The hurricane and its aftermath are likely to lead to challenges for operators, including workforce issues, property damage, flooding, power loss, leaks and food spoilage.

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association is working with members to prepare. Here are 11 tips to follow:

  1. Involve all co-workers in all levels of emergency planning.
  2. Establish an emergency team to act as leaders during a disaster.
  3. Secure vital employee and financial records. Make sure your data and information technology systems are protected.
  4. Create an emergency contact list for all employees and maintain off site. Make sure your staff phone tree includes cell phone numbers as well as management contact information.
  5. Have a plan to either shelter in place or evacuate. Make sure you plan for both.
  6. Determine which staff members, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely necessary for the business to keep operating.
  7. Board up windows and place sandbags by the doors/entrances to reduce flooding.
  8. Remove ice from ice bins or ice machines and unplug all appliances and electronics.
  9. Prepare for utility and essential-services disruptions. Know what to do for extended outages during and after a disaster. This could include electricity, potable water, gas and phone service.
  10. Reduce food supplies. If you find yourself in need of evacuation and have food on hand, consider donating it to the local fire department, shelters and emergency facilities.
  1. After the storm, survey your restaurant for damage and make temporary repairs. In the event of a power outage, evaluate all food items to make sure they haven’t spoiled. Last, but not least, update your staff members with the latest information so everyone is coordinated and can work together as a team.

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