Forecasters and South Florida residents are keeping an eye on Hurricane Irma, a system that has recently been upgraded to a Category 5 and is forecasted to possibly impact the Florida Keys through portions of the Florida Peninsula. Although the exact location of where the storm will make landfall is still not known, we encourage all of our community association clients to take the proper steps to ensure their community is prepared and protected in case that it does hit.
As Hurricane Irma approaches, here are some helpful tips community associations should keep in mind when preparing for the storm:
- Set-up a meeting with the community association manager and board of directors before thestorm hits. During the meeting, develop a to-do list and a hurricane preparedness plan.
- Ensure the following pieces of information are available from a remote location: an updated roster of residents, all insurance policy information, bank information and staff information including names, addresses, phone numbers, salary information, etc.
- Photograph the property and all of the common areas before the storm arrives. It is important to have photos documenting the condition of the property immediately before the storm hits. The photos should include the interior, exterior, and all common areas.
- Store insurance policies in Ziploc or water-tight bags. Take photographs of all declaration pages of insurance policies in order to have the policy information readily available.
- Collect emergency supplies early: flashlights, batteries, radio, water, non-perishable food, medication, and dog food. Keep ample supplies on hand. Verify that all emergency evacuation routes and instructions regarding use of elevators and stairs are posted and up-to-date.
- Leading up to the storm, contact the appropriate vendors to take important actions such as cutting down trees, clearing debris, securing common elements and shuttering windows and doors.
- Make plans for water and electric shutoff times and furniture storing.
- If possible, assign a communications facilitator to keep residents updated and informed. Community association websites, social media pages and a text messaging system can all serve as great vehicles for disseminating important information.
- Back up all data to a safe and accessible location.
- Know which residents are staying on property in case a mandatory evacuation is ordered. This information is vital and could help first responders in the event that they are called on the scene.
- Advise your residents to make accommodations for their pets. It is best to call hotels and shelters ahead of time to see if they are animal friendly.
- Stay informed with advisories and storm updates.
By following these guidelines and planning ahead, community associations can dramatically increase their chances of successfully weathering the storm. Keep in mind that there are experts in the areas of disaster preparedness and planning who have the knowledge needed to help you make the right decisions for your community. You can call us toll-free on our hurricane hotline at (800)737-1390 for immediate advice, or you can reach the following attorneys on their cellphones:
Steven Siegfried: (305) 321-3339
Helio De La Torre: (305) 345-1895
Gary Mars: (305) 987-0632
Roberto Blanch: (305) 527-0636
Susan Odess: (305) 389-1011
The safety of your community’s residents and property is of up most importance. We hope that everyone stays safe and that Hurricane Irma passes us with little to no damage.