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Ready or Not…Storm Preparation
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Minnesota Community Living July/August 2010

Ready or Not…Storm Preparation

By Tosh Tricas CMCA, AMS, PCAM, American Building Contractors

No, this is not hide and seek, but they’re coming and the question remains, are you ready or not? Colorado State University states that in 2010 there will be 15 named storms, a very active year for storms and that the El Niño effect will dissipate by summer. The top ten hurricane names have been chosen. Curious? So was I… the names are: Alex, Bonnie, Colin, Danielle, Earl, Fiona, Gaston, Hermine, Igo and Julia.

Ready or not… In my decades of adulthood I have come to know one thing for certain: severe weather is going to come. Weather patterns are affected by many things, but let’s leave the science of weather prediction to the experts. I cannot say with any certainty that this year will be worse or better than others, but I do know some of you will experience nasty weather and your associations will be damaged because of it.

Ready or not… Are you ready, have you taken the time to buy the CAI Gap Report #14 Natural Disasters? CAI volunteers and staff have spent countless hours developing these and other processes to help with just these situations. Other resources, such as NOAA, offer lists and reference materials for you to prepare for weather events. Here are some suggestions from NOAA on storm planning:

Escape routes
Do you and your residents have a planned escape route complete with maps? How about a back up? Do the local emergency response personnel know your property well? Have you had them over to talk about these issues and asked what they recommend?

Evacuation plans
What is the plan, and will you have site staff sound the alarm and notify all owners of the danger and either identify the escape route and/or help them get assistance leaving the property?

Storm shelters 
When tornadoes and wind storms hit, what is the warning? Is it a siren? Do your residents new to the area know what it is? Are the shelters close by, and do your residents know they exist? Who’s got the key? (I know I laughed too, but the irony is the storm shelter is probably locked, especially at night).

Homeowner communications
Leading up to and after the event, will you use text messages, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or phones to communicate with homeowners? How should they communicate with you? Will your office stay up and running, or do you have a contingency plan for your office to relocate to and continue operation?

Utility shut-off and safety
This is a big one. Leaking gas and live electrical wires are a real danger to homeowners and rescue workers after the fact. Should you contact your local utility and ask them if they have an emergency plan in place and how can your community participate in the process to ensure you are as safe as possible?

Insurance and vital records
Who has the vital records, like insurance policy’s homeowner lists with contact information, emergency services number listings and your restoration company contact? You don’t want to try to figure out who is going to complete the repairs after the damage is done. Be proactive.

Special needs
Handicapped and non-ambulatory residents including the blind and bedridden cannot use stairs. How are they going to get down to the lobby in the event of an emergency? Also consider a plan for service dogs since they are the lifeline for the handicapped and could mean the difference between independence and assisted living.

Care for pets: Information for pet owners
Another big question is, where is Fido? We all know how important pets are, and the fact is, people have been known to jeopardize their lives and the lives of others to save this valued family member. Also, when the storm is over and their pet has gone missing where might they find it?

Safety skills
Do you have a safety and evacuation committee? Individuals trained in disaster preparedness and who are willing to assist with the process of evacuation?

Ready or not… It is not "if” it will rain but rather "when” it rains. Are you ready to be the face of calm and determined perseverance? Are you ready to be the manager that leads your association back from the brink? Let’s face it: you are the one they will be looking to for guidance, leadership, patience, determination, insight, drive, desire, a can-do attitude with a never-say-die outlook. That’s right, tear the shirt open – it is either the wonder woman or superman logo you choose. The fact is you will need to be on top of your game.

Ready or not… I believe we are all pressed to our breaking point at times. I believe that poorly prepared associations can suffer a much greater emotional loss than a properly prepared community. Which one do you manage? Are you ready to look into the eye of the storm, confidently knowing you have done all you could and that you are ready? If you are reading this I know you have the potential. It is really all up to you. Remember, life is all about attitude so pick a good one. Well are you ready…or not?

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