With the last significant storm – Hurricane Wilma – seven years in our past, it’s easy to become complacent. But, as the 2012 hurricane season begins on June 1, what better time to revisit some of the things homeowner and condo associations must do to prepare should a disaster strike?
Associations would be well advised to create an operations manual that outlines what is required before and after a storm. Some things that should be addressed include:
- Who is responsible for securing outdoor patio furniture, planters, and anything else in the common area that can be tossed about ?
- Does the association have a generator? If not, what are plans for providing emergency lights and power?
- Outline at what point, and where, board members will meet after a storm passes and how residents will be notified of any developments.
- Put together a list of residents and emergency numbers/contacts.
Review all of your insurance policies to make sure coverage is paid up. Make sure you, and your residents, understand what is covered and what isn’t. The association should have adequate insurance and work with their agent to make sure payments are made in a timely manner.
Have maintenance make sure that all trees are trimmed and that any large objects that have the potential of becoming a missile are secure or disposed of. Make sure that residents remove anything from their outdoor patios or balconies.
Consider contacting your landscaping company to see if they have a disaster recovery program whereby they will automatically come into the association after a storm to clear landscaping debris.
Have an evacuation plan in place make sure residents are aware of what they need to do in the event they are ordered to evacuate. If your population is elderly, make sure they have someone who can take them in, or that they are provided transportation to a public shelter.
If evacuation is necessary, have a plan in place to be able to notify residents when they are able to return.
Homeowners who do not live in the complex year round are responsible for ensuring that their residence is protected. Most associations do not allow residents to put up storm shutters simply because they will not be home for an extended period of time.
Speak with the association’s banking institution and inquire about a line of credit. After a storm, the association may need immediate access to cash, and may not be able to reach unit owners in order to levy and/or collect a special assessment.
An association’s covenants or declaration should define the common areas and outline what will be covered and what won’t after a storm.
Remember, the association is a legal corporation with responsibilities. The board has a fiduciary duty to protect the property.