As a homeowners association (HOA) manager, you understand that there are some responsibilities that fall upon your organization this hurricane season.
It’s in your hands to make sure the community upholds a high standard of maintenance and that the common areas are taken care of. But when a storm is on the horizon, there’s more to the equation than bringing in potted plants and covering the community pool.
When the next natural disaster is around the corner, protect your community with these hurricane preparedness tips:
Rally up all Stakeholders
From property owners and board members to community employees, it’s important to touch base in the beginning with all hands involved in the community to discuss details of your hurricane preparedness checklist.
Verify or gather new emergency phone numbers and ways to reach everyone. If time allows during a hurricane watch vs. warning, set up a meeting to go over your courses of action moving forward.
Assess your Property
Depending on the size of your community, a sweep of your property could be quite the undertaking.
Here are a few places to begin:
- Secure or bring in easily blown or destroyed objects. This may include small planters, any seating or decor that’s unbolted, garden hoses or supplies left out or easily exposed to harsh weather, etc.
- Resident’s outdoor premises. Make an announcement to all residents to bring in or secure any objects on their patio or overhang that may be affected by the storm or cause damage to other parts of the building.
- Trim overgrown or large trees. This will help to ensure winds or lighting don’t crack branches, which can blow or fall onto nearby property.
- Check your drainage systems. If there is any debris in your resident's storm drains or a poor irrigation or drainage setup throughout the property, now is the time to address it.
- Shut down your pumps. Many communities have more pumps than you’d think. Pumps for pools, irrigation, fountains etc. need to be locked off to avoid potential damage to motors.
- Check on snowbird properties. If any of those who live in your community are only living in their quarters over the summer months, you must note which properties are under your responsibility to maintain, or get in contact with any out-of-staters to take whatever course of action they need to protect their property.
Double Check Your Insurance Coverage
Living in SWFL, you know you have to take out a flood insurance policy, but make sure everything is up-to-date. Review all your paperwork to ensure you’re actively covered, verify your deductible on all parts of the policy, and increase your insurance coverage if you feel necessary.
Learn more about how to avoid insufficient insurance coverage and some tips for adding sewage backup insurance here.
Adjust Video Surveillance
If you have video surveillance on your property, now is a good time to do your due diligence pre-storm. Ensure your cameras are properly grounded to your buildings and not easily torn off by strong winds. Check too that they are approved to handle hail or the degree of rainfall that may come with the hurricane.
Be sure to have enough memory or storage on your devices to record the events of the storm. This could come in handy later with your insurance companies to prove any damage was indeed the result of the hurricane.
Prepare & Communicate a Hurricane Evacuation Plan
Your residents want to know that if an evacuation is necessary, they have a safe route of exit. During this time, it’s important to not only lay out a clear means of evacuation per route, such as detailing what exits to use, but to also consider other factors.
Are any of your residents elderly and require special assistance to evacuate? Do you need to remove or raise any front gate arms? If elevators are being locked down during the storm to avoid electrical malfunctions, do you need to instruct your residents when to use the stairs?
Detail it all in a Collective Disaster Plan
Prior to the hurricane, it’s crucial to communicate the courses of action you took to prepare for the storm as well as inform your residents of their responsibilities and exit routes.
By preparing an email template like this in advance, it should be easy to just make a few modifications and push “send” come storm time. Remember, a hurricane can strike fast, and you need to give those in your community enough time to prepare and evacuate if necessary, so the sooner you relay your disaster plan with them, the better.
Start with Impact Windows
Do the homes in your community have impact windows? This is an excellent first step in protecting your housing investment and residents from Florida’s wicked hurricane season.
Learn more about storm-resistant glass by downloading our 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Impact Windows ebook. We’ll discuss the common materials these storm solutions are made with and help you choose the best brand for your desired level of protection and budget.