Owners Prep for Potentially Fierce Hurricane Season
While it is important to make sure onsite teams are ready for any major storm, educating residents may be even more essential.
During the past decade, AMLI Management Company’s communities have been in the path of hurricanes in both Southeast Florida and Houston. Those experiences have taught Dan Gladden, President of the East Region of AMLI, a valuable lesson for storm preparation.
“Preparation and planning ahead of time is the key,” Gladden says.
Before hurricane season begins in June, Gladden holds a call with his onsite teams and outlines what they must do to prepare for hurricanes, including knowing how to shut off the utilities; being aware of flood-prone areas onsite; and having first-aid kits, ladders, equipment and generators ready.
Atlanta-based Pegasus Residential prepares a checklist for its onsite associates, detailing the number of flashlights needed per office person and the number of rolls of duct tape needed per maintenance technician. It also instructs onsite staff to move freestanding items (including pool furniture), turn off irrigation systems, unplug and secure all computer and electronic office equipment, clean debris from drains, check sump pumps and close and lock all common area and vacant apartment windows, according to Denise Newby, Senior Director of Facilities at Pegasus.
Even if sump pumps are working, water can get into building, especially in low-lying areas like Houston. When that happens, you have to move quickly. "If you are unfortunate enough to get water into a building, you want to get that space dried out as quickly as possible to prevent further damage and mold-growth," says John Boriack, President of Veritas Equity Management.
Gables Residential has lived through many hurricane seasons, especially in Florida. Precautions abound as the company prepares for hurricane season. "We verify all emergency equipment, contact numbers, supplies and resources are updated and accessible," shared Jean Anton, Vice President of Third Party Operations at Gables.
These tips could soon come in handy. Last week, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) updated its hurricane forecast. It now predicts 14 to 19 named storms as part of an “above-normal” season and it anticipates two to five hurricanes are expected to be major with sustained winds of at least 111 mph.
An Ounce of Preparation
Apartment owners must also inform their residents about how to respond to hurricane emergencies. Once a hurricane warning is issued, AMLI sends a letter to its residents, reminding them to remove items from balconies and away from windows.
“It is surprising,” Gladden says. “Some residents aren’t paying attention. You have to be the news and the eyes and ears for them.”
Before hurricane season officially began June 1, Charleston, S.C.-based Darby Development Co., sent out a letter to its residents, reminding them to track the weather through local television and weather sites.
Darby also encourages residents to contact their rental insurance providers to learn what is covered under their plans. It also shares community policies, such as prohibiting taping and boarding-up windows. If residents have to evacuate, Darby reminds them to empty the content of their refrigerators, turn off the main breaker and shut off the water behind or under sinks and toilets.
Gables communicates the nearest shelters and hospitals to its residents. Both its maintenance teams and office staff provide full emergency service when needed and keep open communication with residents via text, email, Facebook and Instagram.
Once a warning is issued, AMLI also works to make sure it has enough gas for its generators and that contractors are lined up to repair any damage after the storm has passed.
“If you wait until the hurricane is there, everybody is scrambling for the resources and it is going to be hard to get them,” Gladden says.