In October, Hurricane Sandy slammed the east coast and wiped out entire communities. Sandy, the largest Atlantic mega storm on record, caused 100 deaths; an estimated $50 billion in damages; demolished hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses; and left millions of households and businesses without electricity, heat, water and provisions.
If you’re struggling with the aftermath, there may not be a lot that’s within your control. But sometimes, even one or two adjustments to your recovery plan can make a difference. Here are seven ideas that may give you some command over the chaos:
- Do you have a crisis team?
Although your entire staff may be in crisis, assemble a crisis team anyway and assign specific responsibilities: civil and resident communications, utilities and supplies, property repairs, street and transportation updates, etc.
Bring your team together in a physical location, conference call or social media site for daily updates. Let them know your expectations and maintain regular contact with them.
- Get frequent updates from FEMA, state, and local recovery teams. Google “FEMA updates” and choose from several options. Do the same for your local municipalities and utility companies. Stay updated on: How long your area will be affected; when utilities and services will be fully restored and when to expect outages. Local status of transportation, street conditions, tunnel and bridge openings, availability of provisions and supplies, etc.
- Commit to regular and frequent communications with your residents. Send short, direct messages to keep them updated on every aspect of the recovery efforts (for your property and your local area). Keep your messages simple, but provide specific details. Whether they’re on your site or not, your residents want to be kept informed.
- Use as many communication mediums as possible. Communications may be erratic for you and also for your residents. Use as many contact numbers and mediums as possible: land lines, cell phones, email, websites and social media sites.
- Set up alternative communication sites using social media. During Sandy, when communications were overwhelmed or failed, social media became the reliable go-to medium. Set up go-to sites on social media to ensure that you can communicate with your staff and your residents.
- Protect your records and your data. It’s your responsibility to protect sensitive data and documents (bank records, account numbers, social security numbers). Make sure you subscribe to a data backup service. This is a good time to rethink what types of hardcopies you really need to keep.
- Prepare for a long recovery period. Stay prepared for intermittent power, water and supply shortages and outages. Budget these resources and always keep your cell phone charged. Always get the important things done in case you unexpectedly lose power. Conserve your water and other supplies in spite of recovery progress. Shortages may suddenly occur.
If your property is in a recovery zone, you’ll be facing enormous challenges in the months ahead. The steps you take now to take charge, stay updated and keep others informed will help your recovery and hopefully ease frustrations for yourself, your team and your residents.