6 Tips to Help Your Property Prepare for Hurricane Season

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is shaping up to again be below-normal, which is good news for apartments along U.S. coast lines. Activity has been mild with only a handful of storms that have not made much of an impact inland or along shores.

AccuWeather.com’s long-range forecast includes two storms – either tropical or hurricanes – to make landfall in the U.S. during the heart of the season, which occurs later in the summer and into the fall. On the Pacific side, activity began intensifying last week with Hurricane Norbert, which skirted the California coast and damaged more than 1,000 homes, sending thousands to higher ground along Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

While the nation’s best climatologists have their thumbs on the latest weather data, constantly changing conditions make it difficult to predict storms. Being prepared at all times takes on even greater significance in a day and age when weather tends to go to extremes.

With National Preparedness Month upon us this month, there is no better time than now for apartments potentially in the paths of hurricanes to get ready for the 2014 season or for any other potential natural disaster.

Here are suggested hurricane preparedness tips from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready campaign:

1. Create an emergency preparedness kit

Build an emergency kit for the front office with essential supplies like a flashlight, blanket, fire extinguisher, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, whistle, first aid kit and basic tools like a wrench and hammer. Also, include one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation.

2. Be aware of the surroundings

Residents and staff should know the surroundings. Learn the elevation level of the property and whether the area is prone to flooding. This will help everyone know how the property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted. Also, identify levees and dams in the area, as well as hurricane evacuation routes. Create an evacuation plan and post throughout the community.

3. Establish a communications plan

Have a communications plan and include social media options available today. The usual standbys like cell phones, walkie-talkies and two-way radios are useful for staff and residents to communicate during any type of disaster. Access to Wi-Fi is a big plus. Keep extra batteries on hand for cell phones and laptops, too.

4. Secure the property to minimize damage

When word hits that a big storm is coming your way, you can bet there will be a big run on plywood to cover windows and other supplies. Covering all the windows on a 250-unit apartment may be impossible, but doing so at the office and in indoor common areas will be beneficial so that operations can continue in the wake of the storm. Allow plenty of time to secure the property.

5. Prepare the exterior of the property

Be sure that trees and shrubs around the property are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant. Also, clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts, and bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.

6. Get your residents ready

Above all, prepare your residents. Social media and property web pages are a great way to bring hurricane awareness to residents, as are printed newsletters and flyers. These can be essential tools for communicating with residents about evacuation plans and what to do in the event of a storm. Also, you may want to enlist local authorities to help with emergency preparedness by hosting a special event or community gathering.

Hurricane threats should be taken seriously. As history has proven, significant damage resulting from wind and flooding can be catastrophic. Is your apartment community ready for hurricane season?

(Image source Shutterstock)


President, LeasingDesk Insurance, RealPage

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Ed Wolff is the president for LeasingDesk Renters Insurance for RealPage. With his over 20 years of strategic leadership experience in both multifamily real estate and technology business sectors, Mr. Wolff leads the overall business strategy, including product development, account management and sales.

Prior to joining RealPage, Mr. Wolff served as chief operations officer for Cortland Partners where he was responsible for maintaining performance excellence across the firm’s operations and support functions. His served in various other leadership roles with the Pinnacle Family of Companies, Place Properties, Web.com and EarthLink.

Mr. Wolff earned his Bachelor of business administration degree in management from Hofstra University and a Master of Science degree in technology management from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

  • Ryan Perez

    Great info; this preparedness guide will help all of our East coast sites.

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