The Covid-19 pandemic has expanded the parameters and elevated the importance of disaster preparedness in community associations. Prior to the start of the 2021 hurricane season, community association boards of directors and property managers should reassess their disaster preparedness plans to ensure they are ready for anything and everything.
Some of the elements of a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan include detailed site plans, especially for large communities, a communications plan with all current contact information for board members and key staff/vendors, and an evacuation plan with information on public shelters as well as local gas stations and grocery stores with backup generators. Insurance information is also a must, and it should always include copies of all policies and information on claim-filing protocols.
The uncertainty caused by the pandemic also spotlighted the importance of unit-owner communications. Comprehensive disaster preparedness plans should include all current contact information and any other preparations necessary for outreach to residents via calls, text, email, and hand-delivered notices to all dwellings.
The contact information for all key vendors and professional service providers is also vitally important. As the coronavirus pandemic so dramatically illustrated, experienced attorneys, insurance agents, accountants and other highly qualified professionals proved to be invaluable resources for association directors to turn to for answers in a very fluid and evolving situation. Preparations should include outreach to these and other professionals prior to and throughout the course of an emergency to help ensure that an association’s actions and policies are legally sound and effectively executed.
Association directors and property managers, with help from highly experienced and qualified professionals, can make a significant impact prior to, during, and after public disasters by steering their community through the challenges of an emergency as deftly as possible. By developing and following a thorough preparedness plan that takes into account all the lessons learned from the pandemic, associations can be better prepared for anything and everything that comes their way.
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