Hurricane Preparedness for Real Estate Managers
Thanks to IREM for this special and timely post!
As the 2011 hurricane season gets underway and Hurricane Irene takes aim at the East Coast of the United States, it’s time to think about hurricane preparedness for your properties.
Structures most at risk from hurricanes are long-span buildings and mobile or manufactured homes. Substantial steel-framed or reinforced concrete buildings are least risky. On a long-span building, the roof is usually supported solely buy outside walls. Shopping centers (traditionally long-span buildings) are especially vulnerable to roof collapse.
Plans to protect a property should be developed well in advance of hurricanes. However, there are some things property managers can do in the 24 or so hours before a hurricane hits to prevent property loss.
- Identify in advance locally designated public shelters in the community and communicate this information to tenants and residents.
- Review the need for and working condition of emergency supplies and equipment, such as plywood and nails (for safeguarding windows), flashlights, and battery-powered radios.
- Clear out clogged rain gutters and downspouts; secure loose gutters and downspouts.
- Seek out and secure objects out of doors that might blow away or cause property damage. These include trash cans and Dumpsters, signs, outdoor furniture, and trash.
- Inspect roofs – repair loose gutters, shingles, and coping; remove tools and loose objects; pick up trash. Inspect roof-mounted HVAC equipment for loose debris and improperly fastened panels; make needed repairs.
- Inspect storm sewers and catch basins; clear away debris.
- Close and protect windows and glass doors – board up windows, install storm shutters, and apply masking or electrical tape in an X pattern on both sides of the glass.
- If near a coastline, stream or river, shut off gas and electricity.
- Shut down all three-phase electrical service just prior to hurricane striking.
- Move elevators to the second floor level and lock them off in the event of flooding. Secure elevator doors at lower levels to prevent entry into the shaft.
After a hurricane, suggested actions include:
- Be careful! Watch for live electrical wires, shattered glass, splintered wood, and debris as well as structural damage.
- Inspect the property and appoint cleanup crews.
- Call the property’s insurance company, restoration contractor, and building inspector, and get them to the site as soon as pissible.
- Set up a manageable schedule to repair the property.
- Have available materials for making temporary repairs, such as tools, hardware, plywood, sawhorses, and barricades.
- Do not turn on the electricity unless it has been officially declared safe to do so by the utility company.
- Report broken gas, sewer, or water mains to the respective utilities.
Before, during, and after the hurricane it is important to listen to authorities and communicate frequently to tenants and residents.
For more information about emergency procedures for any type of emergency, see Before Disaster Strikes: Developing an Emergency Procedures Manual