There’s a Storm a’coming!

It is never too early for Florida communities to plan for natural disasters with the priority focused on  minimizing the impact that a storm could have on Association property during a storm. Preparedness is an on-going, year round process to mitigate the possible effects of dangerous debris, impassable roadways, no electricity, no running water and the inability to get your Association and its common elements up and running.
All storms should be taken seriously. We never know where the final path of a storm will make land fall. Early and constant preparation is the key element to protecting the Association during the
Hurricane Season. It should be the Association’s goal to mitigate any property loss. All of your Association’s pre-planning will reduce confusion and relieve stress when a storm approaches.
Maintenance or a volunteer committee should prepare a site plan that shows the locations of lift stations, fire pumps, generators, pool pumps, fuel storage, electrical rooms, shut-off valves and any other pertinent information. It is key that this information be identified on the site plans. Site plans can be located in your governing documents. For instance, there are four (4) main mechanical components in most condominiums; they are the elevator, HVAC system, domestic water pumps and pool equipment. It would benefit maintenance and management to meet with the vendors that have contracts on these components and have a demonstration of how to prepare these items for an impending Hurricane.
Video record or photograph all common areas to ensure the condition of your assets in case a future claim is necessary. Some of the areas should be gates, roofs, amenities, buildings,  equipment, furniture and any other association property.
Generator: Have generator serviced (load bank if necessary)
Roofs: Have all roofs inspected and documented by an Engineer. Minor preventative maintenance can be the difference between roof integrity and roof failure. Clean roofs of debris and make sure all drains and ditches are free of leaves and debris. If the roof is a composition roof with gravel covering, remove loose gravel to preclude damage to unprotected windows by stones being blown off the roof. If you have had calls for roof leaks, it would be best to have a moisture survey done.
Windows: Have a pre-storm evaluation done. All windows should be inspected for caulk that needs removal and replacement on the interior and exterior of the windows.
Lighting: Check all emergency lighting, have batteries and bulbs in stock
Landscaping: Have all trees trimmed; remove any dead plants or trees. Remove all coconuts (see attached).
Fire Safety Equipment (Fire Extinguishers, Smoke Detectors, Fire Alarm System)
Marina, docks, moorings and piling: Have all inspected for high winds.
Flooding Potential: Inspect and evaluate graded areas that are prone to flooding and have these areas filled in.
Fencing: Repair or replacing any damaged fencing.
Gutters and Downspouts: Make sure that these items are firmly attached and cleaned to avoid any potential water intrusion.
Grading: Soil should slope away from your structures. After the first four feet of your home’s perimeter, the ground should slope down about six inches.
Review all Insurance Policies with Agent. Understand your deductibles and your “proof of loss”. Designation of a Disaster Coordinator: The Coordinator contacts emergency services and notifies the contractors and employees advising them of their duties and needs.
Information Facilitator: This person should be responsible to disseminate information using a resident phone tree. The Facilitator will accept responsibility to assist in the preparation and distribution of all resident information, such as, shelters, evacuation routes, elderly services, pet shelters, etc.
Designation of a Hurricane Committee: This committee will be responsible for assisting the owners with any pre or post hurricane requests and to be available for any special needs residents.
Speak with Association Attorney about any waivers or hold harmless that may apply to your association property. Secure a line of credit from your banking institution for major emergency repairs or to meet payroll, should it be necessary.
Prepare a Policy Resolution as to Emergency Board of Directors Actions.
Prepare a policy and procedure for all Association employees regarding storm preparation and clean-up. (This should be reviewed by Human Resources or Association Attorney). Prepare a resident letter with all hurricane preparations that will be in place relating to the building and common areas, also provide the residents with a “What to do list”. Prepare a resident form. Management should be aware of who are seasonal residents and if the office or another individual has an emergency key in case of a hurricane. Prepare a list with phone numbers of Disaster Recovery Vendors (FPL, Gas, Landscaper, Water Extraction, Electrician and General Contractor) Review all existing contracts to what is expected in terms of service delivery, in a storms aftermath.
Other Preparation Considerations:
Sign-up for Alerts to be sent to you by cell or text messaging Identify Radio Stations in the Area and monitor alerts for storm information updates. 610 AM transmits from Indian River to the Keys for instance. Be sure to have batteries and chargers in working conditions for cell phones and Walkie-Talkies, all communication equipment should be charged prior to storm. Keep a digital camera charged. It cannot hurt to have a couple disposal cameras available. Have flashlights and lanterns available in case power is lost.
Have a fully stocked first aid kit.
If the property has docks/boat slips make sure that you have secured all insurance policies for boats that will be left, in case of high winds or damage to the pilings, etc. Each of these policies should name the Association as additionally insured and a certificate holder.
The Board of Directors and Management should be aware of any additional services clause in the Management agreement. Have a staff training drill on what to do and how to respond. Each employee should have his responsibilities in writing.
Next month we will discuss the actual preparations for an oncoming storm.
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