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What does your HOA have to do to prepare for hurricane season?

Prepare for the worst hurricane, but hope for the best.
Prepare for the worst hurricane, but hope for the best.
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Even through weather forecasters from Colorado State University predict a below average hurricane season, “it only takes one landfall event near you to make this an active season”, says meteorologist Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State University's Tropical Meteorology Project.

Even though a hurricane may pass in a matter of hours, the effect of a hurricane can last for days, weeks or even months depending on the strength of the hurricane and the damage it leaves in its wake. In order to make it easier to get through the storm season, it is important that association’s board of directors ensure that the association’s insurance policies are in place and that the board understands the association’s coverages and deductibles.

After a storm has passed it is important that the board members survey the damage caused by the storm. Some great tools for the association’s board, after a hurricane, are walkie-talkies, a disposable camera, a notepad and a pen or a pencil to take notes. These tools will help board members keep in contact with one another after a storm and will help the board document damages for insurance purposes.

If you haven’t done so already, the association should adopt a written hurricane plan. Additionally, board members should know how to locate electrical meters, fire system panels, water shutoffs and any other relevant property features are located and how to operate such features.

Associations should also adopt rules and regulations which provide for what unit owners must do in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, such as hurricane shutter use. With regard to an association’s official records, hard copy records, such as insurance binders, member contact information, bank account information, etc., can be stored in water tight containers and should be backed up on an external hard drive and with a cloud-based data storage service. Associations should also make sure that the palms and other trees located on common property are properly trimmed in advance of hurricane season. Anything that can fly around should be stowed away, such as roof tiles and patio furniture.

It is important that the board members remain in contact with each other in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane and, above all, to keep an open line of communication with your association's members. Unit owners should be informed of the status of the property and the actions the board of directors is taking to repair or replace any damaged property.

During a hurricane, power outages and cell phone tower outages are common, literally breaking down lines of communication. One of the best and easiest-to-implement steps to preparedness is to communicate your evacuation plan with friends, family and loved ones. When preparing for something that could likely uproot you and your family from your home – or leave you without the option of going to the store –make sure you have all the basics for at least a week.

When a hurricane hits, it can vary in severity. Prepare yourself to the best of your ability and never underestimate the power or strength of a hurricane, that way you’re prepared to the best of your ability. If you have to evacuate, do it. If you need help during the cleanup process, call a professional like ServiceMaster Restore, who has the experience, training and resources to work with you and your insurance company to help restore your home to normal.

Stay tuned to this column for more storm preparedness tips, including an upcoming interview with Peter Duncanson, ServiceMaster Restore’s Director of Disaster Restoration Training. For more tips on surviving the storm, be sure to check out Rembaum's Association Roundup, published by attorney Jeff Rembaum.

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