Hurricane Preparedness and Response: What Property Managers Need to Know

Between June and November, hurricane season becomes a force of nature that property managers need to reckon with — and prepare for. Keep this article handy to get yourself, your staff and your tenants into hurricane-ready preparedness.

Some key trademarks of a hurricane are high wind speeds, storm surges, torrential rains, and flooding – any of which can put your business at risk. The FEMA Flood Map Service Center provides a range of information to help you determine how susceptible your business is to flooding and storm surge damage.

Hurricane preparation isn’t just about protecting your property; it’s also about planning for recovery. As we head into the start of a new hurricane season, the following best practices can help commercial property owners and operators ensure that there’s a calm before, during, and after a storm.

Before

Review property insurance with the company’s insurance agent concerning the hazards of a hurricane. Even as rebuilding is in progress, building and business owners have learned that insurance policies are works in progress and should be reviewed and clarified regularly, well in advance of any disaster.

Remind staff, tenants, or other essential personnel of all hurricane-related policies and procedures, and inform essential employees of their specific roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency.

Make sure all emergency supplies are adequately stocked. This could include generators, sandbags, hand tools, and other essential items your business might need during a prolonged power outage and flooding.

Revisit plans for protecting computer files to make certain critical data is secured through a backup system.

Make sure all drains and downspouts are clear of debris and any other obstructions.

Shut off propane tanks.

Arrange a plan with your “cleanup” vendors well in advance. If you wait too long, it may be too late for them to help you — they will likely be booked.

Determine how to communicate the “all clear” call to tenants when it is officially safe for them to return to the property.

Remove or secure any objects that may cause damage during the storm.

Make sure your emergency communications systems are in working order.

Reinforce windows and doors, as they are vulnerable to windborne debris and broken windows and failed doors are common ways rain enters buildings.

After

Once back on-site, the property manager should do a full inspection of the property for damages and mechanical failures. This inspection should be recorded in writing and supplemented with photographs. A full report should be issued to the owners immediately upon completion.

Management should next communicate to all tenants via email, text, or phone advising them of the property’s status and whether there are any storm-related dangers or concerns. This communication should be reviewed by owners and sent by management as soon as possible after the inspection.

Consider offering a conference call the day after the storm, to share the latest news, information about damage, the assessment procedure and to field questions from tenants.

For more information on the information above, the NAA provides a disaster resource page, which includes hurricane tips. Another good bookmark for your computer would be AccuWeather’s hurricane watch. Ready.gov recommends letting tenants know how to build an emergency kit, which should include one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for both drinking and sanitation

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