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Purchasing for Severe Weather Threats to Your School or Agency

Procurement teams can take the lead on emergency preparedness and severe weather safety purchasing plans through their attention to detail and visibility into cooperative purchasing solutions. Have you analyzed and made predictions about how your supply chain would weather the storm? It’s especially critical now as organizations face higher supply chain risk due to the ongoing delays, shortages and geopolitical conflict.  

Purchasing for Severe Weather Threats to Your School or Agency featured imageTornadoes ripped through eight states across the central and southern U.S. in December killing more than 80 people. NOAA research shows the likelihood of a tornado during that time of year is only about 15%, and in June, that chance is 90%. This example is a powerful reminder to have a disaster preparedness plan in place at your agency or school at any time of the year. NOAA’s National Hurricane Center predicts and tracks massive storm systems, which occur an average of 12 times a year in the Atlantic basin. Considering last year’s destructive hurricane season and a record-breaking 2020, now is the time to assess your organization’s current emergency response plans and safety equipment to identify where improvements or changes may be needed.

Through the partnership with a cooperative purchasing organization, procurement teams can get immediate and streamlined access to disaster preparedness and relief products and solutions at a better price. The cooperative’s industry-leading supplier solutions can help you prepare and recover from what Mother Nature has in store this year by limiting the impact to your agency or school district.   

Read on to learn how a cooperative purchasing strategy can bring cost savings and immediate solutions to prep your agency, schools or university for severe weather threats.  

Disaster Prep with Cooperative Purchasing 

In all spend categories and procurement projects, your ability to adapt quickly is always a key component in solving the challenges that arise for your team and end users. Purchasing with an idea in mind of how your organization will respond to different scenarios eliminates any wasted time if or when that scenario comes to fruition. That preparation along with flexibility and agility you gain from a cooperative can mean the difference between chaos and calm. 

Incorporating a best practice, such as cooperative purchasing, into your strategy can carry some of the burden for you not only before, but also during the natural disaster. Visibility into your supply chain is always a coveted and often difficult goal to achieve. We’ve witnessed obvious benefits of having a strong and clear supply chain during emergencies like the pandemic when cooperative suppliers pulled through to provide PPE and other hard to obtain essentials.  

Have you and your team evaluated the organization’s emergency operations plan (EOP) lately? Having an EOP for what your area may experience can help your purchasing team and stakeholders respond as a hurricane approaches or during a tornado’s aftermath. Practicing the EOP shows your team how and when supplies can reach disaster impacted areas. 


Peak tornado season varies based on where you live but these destructive storms can happen any time of the year, and the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) reports about 1,200 tornadoes hit the U.S. each year. Just at the end of March, deadly tornadoes ripped through Texas, Oklahoma and New Orleans, taking a life in the same area hit by Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago.  

Meteorologists remind people of safe places to seek shelter within your home or business, and the National Weather Service is about to lead #SafePlaceSelfie day on April 6th encouraging to identify the location at home and work where they’d take cover in a tornado or other severe weather event.  

In an ideal world, your suppliers would be able to scale their services to the size of the disaster. OMNIA Partners supplier Fastenal provided some valuable points for procurement teams to keep in mind along with the following questions for your suppliers: 

  • Do you use regular business structure to support disaster efforts? 
  • Can you offer a glimpse into how your company could handle an emergency? 
  • Can you scale communications based on the size of the disaster?
    • Ex. EF 3 or above tornado above may require a supplier to set up a temporary headquarters near the storm’s path. This provides a safe location to ship supplies to and from. 

Vendors should be able to use delivery trucks to get supplies to disaster zones, reach out ahead of a potential situation and proactively work through requests before and after the situation. Cutting down transit time is the goal.  

Hurricanes & Tropical Storms

With such a destructive Atlantic Hurricane season (June 1-November 30) last year, you have two months to make sure your school or agency is fully equipped. Your procurement team’s proactive approach and the cooperative purchasing organization's immediate access to solutions can help ensure supplies are in place if a hurricane makes landfall near your organization.  

Hurricane Ida pummeled Louisiana and Mississippi at Category 4 strength last August, and OMNIA Partners supplier The Home Depot Pro activated their disaster response team to support communities in Ida’s path. More than 250 associates from the company’s merchandising, operations and supply chain teams moved truckloads of products, including generators, water, tarps, batteries and flashlights, to stores in the affected states. Ahead of disaster season, the Home Depot Foundation and its nonprofit partners strategically position emergency supplies in warehouses nationwide for quick deployment to impacted areas.    


One inch of water in your home or business could cost more than $25,000 in damage, according to FEMA, and over the past four years, hurricanes have caused above-average flooding. It may sound simple but having your cooperative partner and suppliers’ contact information where you can access it quickly and easily is something to keep in mind as flooding can block you from getting into your office. And you'd likely want to avoid wading through flood water to get into your building as the water could contain bacteria, oil, hazardous materials, solid waste and other contaminants.  

To avoid spending tens of thousands of dollars on protection and recovery equipment, there’s also the option to rent the equipment instead. OMNIA Partners supplier Herc Rentals can quickly mobilize equipment near areas expected to be affected by natural disasters ensuring you have it delivered, set up, and working efficiently and safely ahead of time.  


The USDA reports that in recent years, the number, severity and overall size of wildfires has increased across much of the U.S., and environmental experts say agencies must prepare for a “fire year” as opposed to simply a season. With the Fire Service’s shift to the concept of a year-long risk, your purchasing team can evaluate your preparedness plan with the help of best-in-class preparedness suppliers through your cooperative.

Speed can be the most significant challenge that an emergency request poses. Discuss with your cooperative and suppliers to establish how quickly the supplies will reach your organization. OMNIA Partners supplier Safeware has access to key solutions that save money, time and resources through bypassing the RFP process. Their solutions include wildland fire response, equipment and safety supplies used by some of the largest cities in the nation.  

What You Can Do to Prepare

Figure out what disaster response supplies you need and tell your supplier ahead of time. Your supplier can pre-position inventory based on the projected disaster path. Do they have their own distribution network or do they relying on other vendors? If they have their own network and can proactively move inventory, you’re more likely to have the products and supplies you need right as the situation calls for it. 

Don’t hesitate to discuss and ask questions about disaster response scenarios with your cooperative purchasing organization and its suppliers. The cooperative’s team of subject matter experts in various spend categories can facilitate the conversation and ensure you get the specifics needed to feel confident that your school or agency is in good hands.