In the wild and wonderful world of weather phenomenon, it’s not often property management and maintenance professionals are gifted with “second chances,” but in a recent turn of weather-related events, the DC, Maryland, and Virginia areas have been given just that – a second chance at hurricane preparedness.
Hurricane season in the United States runs from June 1 through November 30th. So when Hurricane Alex formed five months early in mid-January 2016, it was a rainy surprise. Three tropical storms – Bonnie, Colin and Danielle – arrived at the official season start in June and provided strong soaking rains to southern US states. In August, Hurricane Earl formed and took a southern route over Latin and Caribbean nations. Following Earl, the US has had visits from Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Ian, Julia, Karl, and Lisa. Definitely not the kind of house guests you want staying around long.
What once was a nearly direct threat to our area, Category 4 Hurricane Matthew has performed a weather-like miracle by completely missing the DC corridor as the hurricane swings back over Florida for a double windy whammy. “Florida Gov. Rick Scott activated another 1,000 members of the National Guard to help with storm sheltering and evacuations.
“Time is up. You have to evacuate now if you are in an evacuation zone. To everyone on Florida’s east coast, if you are reluctant to evacuate, just think of all the people the hurricane has already killed. You and your family could be among these numbers if you don’t take this seriously,” Gov. Scott said (via AccuWeather).
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport will close at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday as the hurricane approaches coastal Florida. Orlando International Airport will close at 8 p.m.
Which leaves the DC Metro area with a bit of rain from an incoming cold front (the same front responsible for pushing the Hurricane back over the Atlantic towards Florida) on Saturday and a crisp 65 degree partly sunny fall Sunday – needless to say, we’ve dodged a bullet. And since second chances in property management are ever-so-rare, we’ve decided to do a quick rundown regarding hurricane preparedness so that if you didn’t before, you can prepare now.
7 Steps for Hurricane Preparedness for Property Managers
- Find out today what types of wind and water hazards could happen near your property, and then start preparing now for how to handle them. Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Their impacts can be felt hundreds of miles inland. It’s easy to forget what a hurricane is capable of doing. Hurricanes such as Ike, Sandy, and Isaac reminded us that significant impacts can occur without it being a major hurricane.
- Find out if your property is located in a storm surge hurricane evacuation zone or if you’re in a location that would be unsafe during a hurricane. If you are, figure out where your tenants would go and how they would get there if told to evacuate. Have tenants identify someone, perhaps a friend or relative who doesn’t live in a zone or unsafe home, and encourage them to work out an evacuation destination. Be sure to account for tenant’s pets, as most local shelters do not permit them. Put the plan in writing. Type your property address into FEMA’s flood map to see if you’re in a susceptible area: https://msc.fema.gov/portal
- Call the insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance check-up to make sure you have insurance to repair or even replace the property – this applies to tenants as well. Remember, standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, you’ll need a separate policy for it, and it’s available through your company, agent or the National Flood Insurance Program at www.floodsmart.gov. Act now as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period.
- Your team and your tenants are going to need supplies not just to get through the storm but for the potentially lengthy and unpleasant aftermath. Have enough non-perishable food and water to last each team member a minimum of one week. Encourage your tenants to do the same (and make sure they’ve included their medicines). Electricity and water could be out for at least that long. Keep on hand extra cash, a battery-powered radio and flashlights. Many of us have cell phones, and they all run on batteries. You’re going to need a portable, crank or solar powered USB charger.
- If tenants plan to ride out a storm in their dwellings, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications. Many of these retrofits do not cost much or take as long to do as you may think. Have the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up the windows and doors.
- NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and Central Pacific Hurricane Center are your official sources for hurricane forecasts and the issuance of hurricane watches and warnings. Your local NOAA National Weather Service forecast office provides information regarding the expected impacts from the storm for your area. Emergency managers will make the decisions regarding evacuations. Organizations such as FLASH make disaster safety recommendations. And the media outlets will broadcast this information to you. All work together to be your trusted sources, especially for those less able to take care of themselves.
- The time to prepare for a hurricane is before the season begins when you have the time and are not under pressure – the second-best time is right now. Take the time now to write down your hurricane plan. Know where you and your residents will ride out the storm and get your supplies now. You don’t want to be standing in long lines when a hurricane warning is issued. Those supplies that you need will probably be sold out by the time you reach the front of the line. Being prepared, before a hurricane threatens, makes you resilient to the hurricane impacts of wind and water. It will mean the difference between your property and tenants being a hurricane victim and a hurricane survivor.
In conjunction with the recommendations above, encourage tenants to keep a list of contacts that they may need in the event of a disaster. Keep a list of contact information for reference:
- Emergency Management Offices
- County Law Enforcement
- County Public Safety Fire/Rescue
- State, County and City/Town Government
- Local Hospitals
- Local Utilities
- Local American Red Cross
- Local TV Stations
- Local Radio Stations
- Kitchen Remodeling in Northern VA
- Your Property Insurance Agent