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DISASTER PREPAREDNESS FOR COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS

Wendy Murray, LCAM, CMCA; Association Services of Florida


Print ArticlePrintEmail ArticleEmailFri, 18 December 2009 07:08:47 EST

Disaster preparedness is key for a successful response and recovery process for any community association. Having a plan helps to reduce anxiety and fear amongst unit owners and board members. This happens as people know what to expect and a structure to follow.

A good plan should include a chain of command for communications. Alternative methods of communicating should be listed in order of preference. An example of a chain of command for communications would be:. Board President first point of contact, Property Manager second point of contact, Vice-President third point of contact
A site plan should be included with your plan. Some of the items that should be highlighted on the plan would be lift stations, shut off valves, generators, etc. Lift stations should be serviced in May and June and/or just prior to storm season. Lift stations can have sewage overflow if not serviced timely. Knowing the location of shut off valves can expedite the response of shutting them off for leaks and minimizing damages.
Copies of insurance policies should be with the plan as well as information on filing claims. These should be included as you may not have access to these items timely.  Inclusion of these items helps you initiate the claims process and provides you with coverage information on hand.
Debris management should be included in your plan with a list of three vendors, in order of preference, to be contacted .. A staging area for debris should be selected should the local dumps be closed to all vendors except for FEMA. Debris consists of landscaping items, hedges, trees, construction items, roof tiles, concrete, glass and metal.
Evacuation plans, shelters, pet friendly shelters, generator powered gas stations and grocery stores should all be listed in the plan.  Such information  provides for a structured exit  and helps expedite processes.
All contact information for Board members, property manager, insurance agent, debris removal vendor and your law firm should all be in one place. Contact information should list alternative means of communications in case cell phone towers are not available. This information could list land line phone numbers first, cell phone numbers secondly and then hand held radios, for an example.
Response to the property should commence after the “all clear” has been issued by the county’s emergency management agency and/or the state’s department of emergency management. Response efforts should be listed in order of priority and people assigned to monitor stages. An area should be designated for residents to go to for more information after disaster hits.
A recovery plan should list alternative housing, power and structural processes and inspections for well implemented efforts.
Should you desire assistance with developing a disaster plan for your community, consult an emergency management professional via the county or state agency for emergency management.   This plan is best developed in conjunction with your property manager and preferred vendors after obtaining information from emergency management professionals.
Association Services of Florida provides community association management and developer services throughout Florida. Should you desire more information about emergency preparedness and/or assistance with developing a disaster plan for your community association, feel free to contact Wendy at wmurray@associaflorida.com or (800)714-3514.

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