How Signs Can Communicate Important Messages After Devastating Storms and Hurricanes

Author: Jayme Nelson
A stop sign stands in a street that is flooded

A community never knows when a natural disaster or weather-related event such as a major, damaging storm or hurricane will impact their area. Clear communication is needed before the event to protect people and after the event to let people know where to go to find resources, help with recovery and rebuilding efforts and to get back to a sense of normalcy.

Signs and graphics play an important role in this communication, and to help your business or organization best prepare for or deal with the aftermath of destructive weather, we have compiled some basic sign and graphic recommendations covering general hurricane preparedness, protecting people and property, communicating business status and where to find resources, and sharing community goodwill and pride.

Preparing for the Worst

Thanks to communication and forecasting technology, we are often provided with some warning before weather events. Businesses and organizations in areas prone to severe weather should keep a basic communications plan prepared with some standard signage already in place.

For example, in the Northeast where harsh winters are common, building signs can help identify those that are designated shelters for ice storms and blizzards. In the Southern United States, signs calling attention to tornado-safe structures and to the safest evacuation routes are needed. When extreme weather hits an area, safety is a prime concern and clear identification signs make a difference when every moment matters.

Organizing the Aftermath

Regardless of hurricane planning and preparedness, Mother Nature has a way of reminding us how powerful she can really be. When communities are hit hard and residents need assistance, temporary wayfinding signage can guide people in finding everything from shelters to water and food stations. Simple directional signs and arrows offer organization and reassurance during a stressful time. Churches, schools, warehouses and other community buildings can utilize banners, floor graphics, moveable A-frames, yard signs and tent awnings to better aid those they are offering shelter and services to.

First responders and volunteers who are operating out of unmarked vehicles can benefit from temporary decals and magnetic signage to more clearly classify themselves as helpers.

Companies and organizations can let people know their business status by displaying signs and graphics to gently remind the public “We Are Open” or they can let people know that they are temporarily closed for repairs or that they are closed for good.

Offering Comfort

Following natural disasters and weather events that have left more devastation in their wake, such as the February 2010 North American blizzard or most recently, Hurricane Harvey, large regions of people are in need of greater support. When unfortunate events occur, many want to help, but need direction to know the most reputable outlets for their time, money and donations.

The sooner relief efforts can be organized and clear visual communications set up, the sooner those affected can be helped. Those looking to donate needed supplies benefit from well-marked signage that distinguishes secure drop off areas.

Posting simple signs of appreciation and gratitude for first responders and emergency personnel can go a long way in boosting morale. A few thoughtful words on a billboard or bumper sticker (ex. “Texas Strong”) can provide comfort and offer reminders that, even if unseen, many care and will help.  Displaying banners with a “we will rebuild” message can help spread encouragement and unite communities.

Natural disasters are unpredictable and can have varying outcomes. Should you find yourself in a situation where you need assistance getting your community back to business after such an event, FASTSIGNS® can help.

To help provide ongoing support to those affected by natural disasters and severe weather, please visit the FASTSIGNS Cares American Red Cross page.