Act Now to Reduce Risk During Hurricane Florence: Urgent Information for the Retail and Hospitality Industries in South Carolina

Parts of South Carolina are in the forecast path of Hurricane Florence. If you are in the path and work in the retail and hospitality industries, now is the time to act in order to reduce the risk of claims during the storm.



  • Do not attempt to capitalize on a crisis by raising prices or rates on your guests. Remind front-line employees about South Carolina’s price gouging law, which is now in effect. Those charged with price gouging can be met with severe civil and criminal sanctions. Read Attorney General Alan Wilson’s announcement. By observing all published prices and rates for your hotel or food-service establishment, you will avoid mere accusations that can reflect negatively on the public image of your business’ public image is another reason to avoid the temptation to unfairly capitalize on the disaster by raising prices.
  • Make a conclusive determination regarding whether your establishment can continue operations in the event of storm. If there is any question that you can’t, this decision needs to be immediately communicated to all personnel and guests (and prospective guests who have made reservations). Your guests and prospective guests need as much lead time as possible to make alternative arrangements in the event you determine you will not be able to operate during the storm.
  • Open lines of communication with corporate risk managers and safety directors and heed their directions concerning emergency response.
  • Review your emergency response plan with all of your personnel. This plan should spell out what is to be done in response to a natural disaster, when it is to be done and who is to do it. Management needs to take responsibility for ensuring all employees know the plan and execute upon it.
  • Clearly communicate your emergency response plan and have a clear protocol about future communications. Employees need to know what is expected of them during the emergency. Make sure there is a way they can get the information they need (e.g., whether they need to come into work) in a reliable manner such as email, text, phone tree or recorded telephone message.
  • In the event medical treatment is needed for either guests or employees, arrange for it. Do not hesitate to provide this kind of assistance.
  • Communicate with your guests. Tell them exactly what is being done to respond to the crisis. Let them know what they need to do in the event the storm requires they take shelter. Make sure your employees know the importance of remaining calm when communicating information or directions to guests.
About Christian Stegmaier
Senior Shareholder

Christian Stegmaier is a shareholder and chair of the Retail & Hospitality Practice Group at Collins & Lacy in Columbia. He is also active in the firm’s professional liability and appellate practices. Stegmaier welcomes your questions at (803) 255-0454 or