As many of you know, the Atlantic Hurricane Season officially began June 1st. Though the southeast region of the US doesn’t typically see the peak of storm activity until a bit later in the season (it doesn’t officially end until November 30th), we want to go ahead and share some tips and other information to help you prepare should we have any storms come our way this year.
One of the best ways to stay up-to-date on adverse conditions affecting your area as well as stay knowledgeable regarding critical information throughout all phases of impending storms is to keep a close eye on our extreme weather website. On this site, homeowners can submit maintenance/service requests as well as find links to important information such as forecast reports, updates on specific communities when applicable and links to a bevy of external resources like where to find gas, Red Cross assistance and road closures.
Please note that to access specific community information or put in service requests through this site, you must login to your owner portal.
CAMS is Here to Help
Many of our team members live in coastal areas so we understand firsthand how disconcerting and inconvenient hurricanes can be. With our experience and personal knowledge of these storms, we want to set very clear expectations for our clients so that we can best assist everyone.
Throughout hurricane season, your Community Manager will be in touch with your Board to establish pre-storm checklists to ensure that your community is as prepared as possible in the event of a storm.
Your Board alongside your Community Manager should already have a plan in place for safeguarding the common elements of your association prior to the impending arrival of any storms. However, please be reminded that individual homeowners are responsible for securing their homes and personal property unless something else has already been agreed upon between CAMS and your association.
Making Sure Your Family is Prepared
Regardless of your proximity to the water, if you find yourself in the path of a hurricane, there are some best practices you should keep in mind while preparing your home and deciding your family’s course of action for the storm.
Storm Preparation Tips
- Keep up with weather forecasts on television, radio, the internet and CAMS’ extreme weather site. Forecasts can sometimes change hourly during these storms, so it is imperative that you keep yourself informed
- Make sure your car is filled up with gas – if there is a loss of electricity for an extended period after the storm, fuel may not be readily available or may be in short supply
- If you’re riding out the storm at home, be sure to stock up on bottled water and nonperishable food items
- Make sure you have enough of your prescriptions to last at least a week
- Locate the flashlights in your home and make sure you have plenty of batteries
- Secure outdoor furniture and any other loose outdoor items that could turn into projectiles with the increased wind speeds
- Fill bathtubs with water – this can be used to flush toilets or for bathing in a pinch
If you make the choice to evacuate, please follow the posted routes along the highways and leave as early as possible – the roads will only get more congested the longer you wait.
Take items such as important documents, small valuables and be sure to secure your home. If you have pets and are heading to a shelter, be sure to call ahead to find a shelter that accepts pets.
When a storm is threatening your area, local supplies of plywood can often be quickly depleted. If your Board thinks that this service would be beneficial to protecting your association, it is crucial that the decision to expend the necessary funds be made prior to and independent of an impending storm.
Due to the high cost associated with purchasing and installing plywood, Boards of Directors must authorize CAMS to perform this service prior to work being started.
If your board has given the necessary approval, the boarding up of units will begin once the National Weather Service has predicted that the storm threat to your area is imminent. CAMS’ staff will aid in coordinating materials and labor.
When the storm has passed, CAMS will assist in the removal of boarding materials in accordance with what has been decided by the Board once it is safe to do so.
To prepare for the most active period of hurricane season, CAMS establishes a Severe Weather Team which is tasked with determining appropriate actions as they align with the phases of the storm, the path it is predicted to take and the timeline it is expected to follow.
We have divided this communication into phases so that expectations are clearly set for our clients.
- Phase One - Storm Advisory: This phase is in effect when a named storm is predicted to be about 72 hours from impact. The Severe Weather Team will meet to discuss moving into the next appropriate phase and any actions that need to be taken.
- Phase Two – Storm Watch: When a named storm is predicted to be 1-2 days from impact. During this phase we are keeping a close eye on the path of the storm as this is when predicted location of landfall is often narrowed down by forecasters.
- Phase Three – Storm Warning: When a named storm is ready to impact one of our regions and the threat is imminent (less than 24 hours from impact). Offices in affected regions will likely begin closing during this phase.
- Phase Four – Post Storm: After a storm has passed through one of the areas we serve, we will communicate with employees and establish post-storm protocol for all affected.
What We Learned from Florence
Those of you living along the coast and near rivers have a personal understanding of the difficulty’s hurricanes can cause, even the lower category ones. Afterall, Florence made landfall as a category 1 and we all saw the destruction she left in her wake. We at CAMS hope to take what we learned in dealing with last year’s storm and put it into practice in the future to truly raise the bar of association management services during natural disasters.
Creating a Jump Team
One thing we did last year to ensure minimal service interruptions for our clients was activate a “jump team”. This involved some employees who live in our coastal regions travelling to Charlotte ahead of the storm in order to be able to continue assisting clients during and immediately after the storm by avoiding the phone and internet outages that were troubling the coast.
Having team members safely out of the main path of Florence allowed us to stay ahead of the storm in that we were able to keep everyone as informed as possible and begin coordinating with disaster relief professionals and handling repair issues as quickly as possible after Florence had passed.
Though we certainly hope we don’t need a jump team or any of these tips anytime soon, Florence hammered home the idea that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and we want to help you be prepared should the need arise.