Many in the Carolinas are still catching their breath after Hurricane Florence, even as we enter into another season of hurricane preparedness. Here at CAMS, we’re taking what we’ve learned and adding it to our playbook containing 30 years of best practices in professional community association management -- what to do, and perhaps more importantly what not to do.
Flo taught us some important lessons; perhaps the biggest one being to not take the lower category storms lightly because they can turn out to be just as, if not more, catastrophic than the category threes. I personally have lived through a few Category 3 storms, and I can honestly say Flo, a Category 1 hurricane, in some ways was worse. Sure, maybe her winds were not as intense, but those winds combined with flooding caused by rain and storm surge caused approximately $24 billion in damage, making Flo the ninth-most-destructive hurricane to affect the United States.
One of the main things we are focused on in our unending support of our clients is helping line up contractor resources to quickly and effectively deal with damage from hurricanes like Florence. For example, getting contractors vetted and having mitigation contracts in place before a storm can prove to be an invaluable asset to your association in case of severe weather-related damage.
Continuity of services is another huge consideration. Because of our size, we were able to proactively send a jump team of highly trained individuals from Hurricane Flo’s path here in Wilmington to offices in Charlotte, well out of harm’s way. This setup enabled us to better coordinate with our stakeholders and disaster relief professionals without interruptions to power, email or phones.
Through this jump team and other proactive practices, we are setup to send important storm communications to all of our owners, and actually maintain a content-rich extreme weather site, camsmgtextremeweather.com, where community managers can post important updates before, during, and after a hurricane. This website includes:
- an online tool for submitting service or maintenance requests
- up-to-date information about specific communities
- tips, links, and information on FEMA assistance, travel advisories/road conditions, where to find Red Cross and fuel, and a plethora of other resources
- extreme weather updates from storm advisories to warnings through to post-storm recovery efforts.
The CAMS extreme weather site is just one of the tools that helps us guide our community associations through pre- and post-storm procedures. Homeowners should keep in mind that appropriate preparations may vary depending on what type of home you live in. For example, if you live in a condominium versus a single-family home, your condo management company may need to shut-down elevators and alarm systems which could impact your evacuation and return plans.
Regardless of the type of residence, we recommend homeowners prepare for an oncoming hurricane or extreme weather event with some important basics:
- clear potential projectiles (hanging plants, garbage cans, outdoor furniture)
- secure personal property
- tiedown gates and lock entrances to outdoor living spaces
- make sure all windows are in locked position
- grab important documents and medications
Homeowners should understand that their community management professionals can be incredibly helpful in preparing to return to a home, as they can serve as a well-informed point of contact with knowledge of current conditions. For example, after a storm, we have our community managers go out and do an initial assessment as soon as possible. This includes checking if roads are passable, if electrical lines are down and if any trees are laying on homes.
Our managers work alongside our command center which has access to resources like tree removal companies, licensed and insured contractors with the financial backing to start work while homeowners are dealing with insurance companies and local municipal officials to coordinate recovery efforts as soon as possible.
For more helpful information, please feel free to read our series of Insights articles “Property Owner Association Strategies For Hurricane And Disaster Preparation” linked here:
Property Owner Association Strategies For Hurricane And Disaster Preparation (Part 1)
Property Owner Association Strategies For Hurricane And Disaster Preparation (Part 2)
Property Owner Association Strategies For Hurricane And Disaster Preparation (Part 3)