Employers who face regular disasters such as hurricanes should consider what steps they can take to mitigate the impact on employees. The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, for example, got off to an early start, as the Associated Press reported. Although these tropical storms and hurricanes mainly effect the coastal areas, they can be devastating to people further inland by the severe flooding and tornadoes. In 2012, Hurricane Isaac not only effected people in Tampa, Florida and the New Orleans area, but also in areas that were not in the national limelight. The incredible amount of rain effected pockets of people on the each coast of Florida as well as others in Mississippi and Louisiana.
In advance of these expected storms, at this time of year companies that have employees in several coastal states typically begin to prepare for localized emergencies for their employees. This was especially true as Isaac begin to bear down on New Orleans on the same day that Katrina hit seven years ago. Several multi-state companies were concerned about their employees in New Orleans and Tampa and worked to be prepared to make grants to any of them that met with any severe medical or finical hardship due to Hurricane Isaac. The typical question was “what do we do right now, with the immediate threat of Isaac to be able to make grants to employees who are effected.”
The options are to establish a process and criteria focused solely on their employees or to donate funds to non-profits who focus on disaster relief for everyone in the affected area. While most employers would prefer to assist their employees they are concerned about taking the correct steps and avoid conflict the IRS guidelines.