Guide for local authorities in the event of disaster

January 27th, 2015 Category: Local Authority & Housing

If your building has been struck by natural disaster, then the first priority for local authorities after the danger has passed, will be in restoring things back to normal.

This can be a mammoth task, as the clean-up operation may involve multiple public buildings, streets and infrastructure.

For that reason, it is difficult to take a one-size fits all approach when it comes to cleaning up after a natural disaster.

However, there are some observations that if followed properly, can ensure that everything goes as smoothly, efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Therefore, the purpose of this article is to identify some of the the hints and tips that can be applied broadly across different departments and infrastructure.

This advice can also be disseminated to and adopted by businesses that have also been impacted by crisis.

Health and safety

It is important that all occupants, staff members or personnel do not return to a building until emergency servicers deem it safe to do so.

Once this has occurred, a building should also be surveyed by the health and safety representative appointed within the company, or department.

Further inspections need to be conducted in order to eliminate future risks to safety. Authorities should also ascertain whether there is anything that can be done to mitigate the impact of any future disasters or risks.


An insurance company will want to know that everything has been done to reduce the likelihood of damage in a property.

Furthermore, the insurance firms of the buildings/infrastructure in question must be contacted before any cleaning takes place. Failure to do this may result in firms failing to pay out, which could cost potentially cost local authorities millions.

It will be necessary to find out whether you can begin rebuilding or repair work immediately or whether it will be necessary to wait for the insurance firm to authorise any cleanup operations.


Another major consideration for departments will be whether there are enough employees, cleaners or volunteers to conduct the cleanup operation.


Before any crisis or disaster takes place, sufficient funds should be set aside in the local budget to ensure that enough money is available to provide the tools, resources, transport and personnel available to conduct the task.

Quotes should also be obtained before any cleaning takes place and these should ideally be approved by the insurance company in question.


After a disaster, you may find that extensive damage has taken place. In this case, it is important that the power supply is switched off before the clean up is attempted. 

A licensed electrical contractor should then be enlisted to inspect any electrical equipment before it is switched on.


Anything mouldy that cannot be repaired or cleaned should be promptly discarded.

Furthermore, steps should be made to remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.

In addition, all hard surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, with steps taken to eliminate germs and bacteria.