How should community associations prepare and respond to natural disasters?

Natural Disasters HOA Vinteum

Recently, natural disasters have been on our minds due to the news about tornados in the midwest, wildfires in California and earthquakes in Florida. So we decided to go through all types of natural disasters, which while scary, are very important to think about so that your community is prepared all eventualities. As well as thinking about preventing damage, we’re also going to look at responding to the disasters after they happen.

For all these natural disasters it is an excellent idea to have some flashlights, blankets, and a portable generator. An emergency supply kit, a well-stocked first aid kit (or two), a radio and an evacuation plan which should be shared with residents (you could post it as a notice on Neigbrs) are all necessary. All documents should also be stored on the cloud and be password protected to avoid being lost or damaged. Luckily on Neigbrs documents are password protected and on the cloud!

If you don’t already, you should have a Disaster and Emergency Response Plan, that covers all rules and procedures both short and long term. It needs to cover what is expected of board members, how to handle special assessments, and how to borrow from the reserve fund etc.


Prevention: With earthquakes, the most important thing to do is to secure everything. The biggest cost after an earthquake is from furniture falling. All tall, heavy and bulky furniture should be fixed to the floor or wall to prevent it falling. You should also secure your water heater and any other large appliances. All cabinets should have good latches so they don’t fly off and all the contents spills out creating more potential damage and definite mess. Hopefully, you already do the next two things but you should store hazardous materials somewhere separate and secure. You should also have several fire extinguishers in case a fire starts during an earthquake.

Response: Check if anyone in your HOA has suffered injuries, provide basic care to anyone who has, and call 911 if the injury is serious. Stay away from any damaged areas, and beaches if you are near any, as tsunamis can follow earthquakes.


Prevention: Floods are the most common natural disaster in the USA, they can happen in all 50 states. So it’s a good idea to make sure that your insurance covers them. The most important thing to do within in buildings is elevate anything of value. So laptops, important papers, and money should all be high up. If a flood is likely, stay tuned to the news in case evacuation is necessary. Make sure that all residents pack a bag of essential supplies (including any necessary medication, water, food, and warm clothes) in case an evacuation is called for. Any outdoor furniture in your community should be brought inside so as not to cause any damage. Do not walk through moving water as just 6 inches can knock you off your feet.

Response: If you’ve been evacuated, return only when authorities say it’s safe. Don’t touch electrical equipment if it’s wet or you’re standing in water and if it’s safe shut off electricity. Be careful, because animals may have been swept into buildings, and the water may also be contaminated.

Natural Disasters HOA Vinteum


Prevention: If a severe storm is coming secure all outdoor furniture, and ask residents to do the same, as there might be high winds. If you have covered parking or garages, ask residents and staff to park their cars there, preferably with a full tank, so they don’t get hit by lightning or by anything falling. If you do not, then cars need to be parked at the very least away from trees. Keep children calm, and inside, and secure pets inside. If you have enough warning, trim any trees that could fall on buildings, and consider buying lightning protection systems to protect buildings in your HOA. When you start to hear thunder, ask everyone to get inside. If there’s phone signal, send a text message or smart call from Neigbrs.

Response: Watch out for fallen power lines and trees and report them to authorities or the property manager, and stay clear of them. Check homes and common property for damage, and don’t drive through anywhere affected by the storm if you can avoid it.


Preparation: Buy a generator (if you don’t have one) and stock up on fuel at the start of winter. Learn the signs of frostbite and hypothermia and basic first aid to treat them. Make sure all residents have a generator if a snowstorm is coming, and that they stock up on non-perishable foods and necessities (medicines, toilet paper, diapers etc), and be prepared for a power cut. Make sure everyone has some emergencies supplies (including warm clothes, blankets, food, and water). Insulate water pipes with newspaper and ask residents to do the same. Bring pets and plants into the house, stay inside and keep the thermostat turned up high to keep everyone warm.

Response: Limit time outside, but try to keep in touch with residents in case they require emergency assistance. Be careful when using generators and use them only away from windows. Try to shovel some snow, without causing harm to yourself, and use sand, ice melt etc for traction on surfaces.


Prevention: If there are wildfire warnings in your area buy N95 masks for all the residents, or ask residents to buy them. If your HOA allows pets, inform residents on how to keep them safe. Pets should at the very least have time outside minimized because they’re very sensitive to smoke, so residents should set air con to recirculate air and use air purifiers. Residents should also have a plan for their pets in case of evacuation. The board should be following the local warning system, as well as the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio. If you have enough time you should sweep up leaves and debris and consider cutting down or trimming trees near buildings, and set up hoses to reach all buildings.  

Response: Try not to make calls as phone systems are often busy after an emergency, instead send text messages (through Neigbrs to communicate with your HOA), and use social media to talk to loved ones. Be careful of hot ash, live embers, and smoldering debris and trees. Finally, be aware that wildfires can mean a higher risk of floods in the coming years.

For all of these natural disasters, it’s necessary to have emergency supplies, including food, water, blankets, and a first aid kit, a radio to communicate with group leaders, board members or the police, an evacuation plan and a Disaster and Emergency Response Plan. It’s incredibly important to communicate with residents throughout any emergency or disaster, and Neigbrs allows you to send emails, texts, calls and when residents have the app, notifications on their phone.

If you want to know more about Neigbrs contact, call 8449000910 or send us a message on our site. You can set up a free trial or organize a demo with us where we walk you through all of Neigbrs’s features.


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