Hurricane season is here, and since no two communities are alike, it’s important to take the time to develop a plan specific to your own. “As a rule of thumb, your property management company should have a hurricane preparedness plan template in place, and this is the best place to start,” said Mitchell Krauss, Value Engineering Manager of FirstService Residential.
Communication is key. Start communicating early and often. Hold an open meeting every year and include all residents – both renters and owners. Let them know what to expect should a hurricane strike. Present the plan, the timeline for both before and after the event, and the specific operational changes all residents can expect along the way.
Begin planning with the end in mind. Your number one objective is to ensure the safest possible community; think about safety before, during and after a hurricane. Your second objective should be to preserve and protect the property and its physical plant at all cost.
Include your legal counsel. Make sure the board and management understand the legal parameters of their emergency board powers in a disaster scenario. Every board member should review these powers annually – ideally as a part of their board orientation immediately following the annual election. Your manager should take the lead in coordinating this process for you.
Financing is of the utmost importance when developing your disaster preparedness plan. Do you have reserves? How much is your insurance deductible? Do you have quick access to cash that may be needed for post-disaster stabilization? Do you have a line of credit from your bank in place?Will you need to quickly pass a special assessment? Your manager should coordinate this with your insurance broker and professional financial support team.
Finally, know your residents! Is there anyone who may need special accommodations? Do you have an updated roster of emergency contacts? Do your residents know where to go in the event of an evacuation? Create a resident preparedness guide that includes tips regarding medication, pets, evacuation routes, management’s communication plan (where they access real-time information about your community) and educate all residents about what association insurance will cover and what residents (yes, both owners and renters) will be responsible for.
For more information on First Service Residential’s property management services, call 954-925-8200 or visit www.fsresidential.com.