Hurricanes can be very costly, and devastating to a community, you should prepare well in advance so that you have a plan A, B, and C. Planning well and in advance will minimize the damage the hurricane may cause and help your HOA to return to normal.
Hurricane season is incredibly stressful for both the association and the residents, so here we’re going to address worries of both separately so that both residents and the board can prepare for the hurricane.
The first thing you need to do is to create a plan for evacuation, and general hurricane actions. If you have one, you should go over it with the rest of your board and your property manager. Your property manager might have valuable insight that could improve your plan.
After your plan is all sorted, you should share it with your staff and residents. You can post a notice in Neigbrs so everyone receives an email outlining the plan.
You should hold a meeting with your residents to explain the plan so that everyone can ask questions. Anyone who doesn’t have a car needs to be assigned someone to go with in case of evacuation. Anyone with limited mobility who might need assistance in case of evacuation should be assigned someone to help. You can take this opportunity to update your residents and staffs’ contact information are both backed up on the cloud and as a hard copy.
Make sure to call your insurance company and make sure you’re fully covered for hurricane damage. Check that all your community’s assets are listed before a hurricane threatens. After that meet with all your service providers to see what assistance they offer pre and post-hurricane to check they fit your requirements.
Go around your HOA and photograph everything. Check for any trees that might be safety hazards, and make sure they’re pruned or cut down. Any common area buildings roofs, pipes, and windows should be checked and repaired, don’t risk major damage by leaving repairs until after your community is hit by a hurricane.
All outdoor furniture (tables, pool furniture, tennis windscreens, and trash cans) needs to be tied down or placed in storage so that it doesn’t cause any damage. Order plywood early to secure and protect windows if you don’t have hurricane shutters.
Shut down all pumps for pools, irrigation, and fountains to avoid any damage to the motors. If you have elevators you need to contact your elevator company to make sure they can be properly secured on the middle floors if you’re evacuated and don’t run the risk of being flooded. You should also unlock or disabled the gates so that residents can easily come in and out in case of a power cut.
Check that you have all important documents backed up on the cloud, using a program like Neigbrs, Google Drive or Dropbox, and hard copies somewhere safe in watertight containers where they can’t be damaged if there’s flooding.
You and the rest of the board should keep up with the news, a great site to do this is this one. It includes graphs, charts, and maps that show the weather across the US, it’s very useful for tracking what’s going on. You can also follow the National Hurricane Center, on their site and Twitter.
If you hear that you should evacuate, communicate this with the HOA. You could send a text through Neigbrs, or just sound a siren. After being allowed to return analyze community buildings for damage, and ask service providers to come as fast as possible to fix any damage.
Read your HOA’s plan, and go to the meeting where they explain it if they have one. Make sure you know where to go if you’re evacuated, and that they will accept your pets. If you don’t have a car let them know so that you can go in someone else’s car.
Create or update your disaster box. It needs non-perishable food, water, a first aid kit, dust masks, a flashlight, some backup chargers for cell phones, toiletries, wipes and hand sanitizer, along with some extra cash. The Red Cross has a very extensive good list of all the supplies you need. If you have young children, it’s a good idea to have some entertainment for them. These supplies don’t have to be in an actual box, it could be a waterproof backpack or an easy to carry plastic storage container. The most important thing is that you can easily carry it if you have to evacuate
Make sure you bring anything inside that could cause damage. This includes bikes, lawn furniture, dog house, toys or anything else that might be around. You also have to close all windows and doors, put down your hurricane shutters, if you don’t have any then buy plywood early and put it across your windows. You also should reinforce your garage doors.
Check your drains are clear. If you have trees on your property that aren’t your HOAs property then make sure they’re safe, and get them trimmed or cut down if they’re old or present a hazard. If you’re worried about any trees that are your HOA’s responsibility then get in touch with your board.
Turn down your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep it closed if power cuts so that the food doesn’t go off. Be sure to have a full tank of gas in case you’re evacuated, but unless you are evacuated stay inside in a safe room away from windows.
If there is a flood or storm warning from local authorities switch off and unplug electrical appliances (except for your fridge and freezer), and don’t use your phone.
Don’t go outside during the storm, even if it looks calm because winds might still be high or high winds may be approaching, or you could be hit by flying debris. Stay safe and stay inside, unless you’re evacuated.
If you’re evacuated follow the instructions given by your HOA and go to the closest shelter with your family, pets and emergency supplies. Make sure you tell out-of-state family and any family that isn’t with you. Wear sensible clothing, that means closed toe shoes, a hat or cap, long pants, and a long sleeve top.
Make sure you evacuate early enough so that you’re not trapped, and follow the routes set out. You may know a shortcut, but you don’t know if it’s shut off or dangerous and don’t drive in flooded areas.
After the hurricane has completely passed before going into your house walk around to check for a gas leak, fallen power lines or structural damage. Take pictures if there is damage. When you re-enter your house be careful in case animals have been washed in. Avoid drinking and preparing food with tap water until you know it’s not contaminated.
Stay safe this hurricane season!