June 1 marked the start of hurricane season – a season that doesn’t end until November 30. Each year, the Atlantic coast is hit with several major storms. Hurricanes can pack powerful winds and torrential rains wreaking havoc on everything in their path. It is essential that HOA communities are prepared in the event of a major storm and have the right plans and processes in place.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind:
· Insurance Coverage: Are all of the association’s insurance policies up to date? When is the last time they were reviewed to ensure they provide adequate coverage? In many instances flood insurance is separate, so does the HOA have a policy in place for this?
· Important Files: Make sure that all essential data and documents are backed up and there is copy stored on a secure remote server, at an off-site location, or in a fireproof, waterproof safe.
· Property Documentation: Keep current, time-stamped photographs or videos of the property documenting all assets and their condition. Take pictures of equipment, artwork, furniture, and other valuables. If the HOA should need to make any insurance claims, having this material can be very beneficial.
· Service Providers: Follow up with service providers to determine what type of response they provide following a hurricane and the timeline as well. Make sure there is a clear understanding of their level of commitment and both groups’ expectations.
· Emergency Plan: Don’t wait until the last minute to create an emergency plan for the association. Ensure that homeowners know where to find emergency information regarding storms, where to go in the event of an evacuation, and who to contact if they need help. Assign responsibilities within the HOA to prepare the property for a storm including boarding up doors and windows, bringing in outdoor furniture, turning off pumps to the pool, and securing other amenities.
· Communicate: Clear, consistent communication is key. This is a time when it is critical to have accurate contact information for everyone involved with the HOA from homeowners to vendors to property managers to local officials. Update members on impending storms, how they can prepare, and what to do before, during, and after the hurricane to stay as safe as possible.
A hurricane is a major weather event and can cause a lot of damage and destruction. It should not be taken lightly. It is better to be over prepared than under prepared. Take steps to ensure the entire HOA community is working together to put appropriate plans in place and keep everyone safe. Kuester works with communities on processes and procedures as well as communicating with vendors and homeowners, having up-to-date files, and much more. Contact Kuester today to find out how we can help your HOA community.