Hurricane preparedness is a significant undertaking for every community association in Florida. Being well prepared — and well informed — can determine whether association boards and their managers will sink or swim in the aftermath of a storm. Here are some helpful tips to enable associations to stay ahead of the 2019 hurricane season, which officially began on June 1 and will end on November 30:
Maintain an up-to-date paper roster of the current residents, and store it at an accessible off-site location. A separate list of residents who are remaining in the building should also be kept. Accounting for the whereabouts of all residents can be vital for emergency response teams who might have to provide medical assistance to any residents in need.
Keep important documents at a safe alternate location. This includes a copy of the association’s governing documents, a certified copy of the insurance policy, bank account information, service provider contracts, and contact information for all residents, staff and vendors of the association.
Take date stamped pictures and videos of the entire property for insurance purposes. This should include the inside and outside of the property and all common areas, as well as equipment such as computers. Send these pictures and files to someone away from the state along with the contact information of your insurance agent and public adjuster.
Consider pre-negotiated service contracts with vendors who typically assist in the aftermath of a storm. This can include water restoration companies to mitigate flooding, debris removal companies, and security providers. Have your attorney review ALL contracts before signing anything. Companies have been known to take advantage of associations. Your attorney will ensure that adequate protections are included.
When creating the association’s hurricane preparedness plan, make sure you do so as if you will not be able to access your building in the aftermath of the storm. Make sure you have a plan in place for entry back to the property, designate who will be first on site, and create a backup plan for what will be done should local officials deny access to the building or close off the area. Also, implement a method where the board can call and hold an emergency board meeting, should one be necessary.
Being prepared in advance of a storm is fundamental for every community association in Florida. Though no one can control the intensity of a hurricane or where it decides to make landfall, community associations can control how prepared they are to deal with one.