Hurricane Season: This is what you need to do before, during, and after a disaster

By Amy Repke
Image Description

The 2019 hurricane season is here. This season is expected to be “slightly above average but less active than last year,” according to The Weather Channel’s forecast​. However, this does not guarantee a safer season. Your community should be equipped to respond to anything in an effective and efficient manner.

The Weather Channel expects the season to be slightly less active than last year but warns that residents along the coastal U.S. should be prepared no matter the forecast.

For homeowners associations in these states, that means reviewing current emergency preparedness procedures for before, during, and after a hurricane, what supplies to include in emergency kits, and who to contact in the immediate aftermath.

Standard features of a hurricane plan include emergency contact information, responsibilities of the board, management, and residents, and a list of services that might be unavailable during and after a hurricane.

More specifically, this plan should have several checklists, including those that cover:

  • Actions for the community’s incident commander
  • Tasks that residents should complete before they evacuate
  • Pre-storm and post-storm communications
  • Post-storm grounds survey and cleanup
  • Post-storm inspection of residential units

In addition, the plan should have a prepared notice advising residents of an impending hurricane and the risks of staying, a form to be filled out by residents who decide to stay, and what residents should know about the association’s insurance coverage and reserve funds.

Adopt and Share the Community Emergency Plan

A community’s emergency plan should be reviewed by experts such as the local police chief and presented to and approved by the association’s board. Once the plan is finalized, staff should implement timelines and responsibility charts and provide residents with information about the plan, so they can act accordingly when necessary. We suggest conducting drills on a regular basis for practice. 

HOAs also can make a list of relief organizations at the local and national level that residents can reach out to for help, as well as detail the process to seek aid and debris removal assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Maintaining communication is critical during and after the immediate danger has passed. Determine which residents or board members will be on call in the event of an emergency, and identify if any ham radio operators live in the community or in the immediate area in the event that cell towers are rendered inoperable.

Mitigation

Each year the number of natural disasters increases, yet only half of impacted communities qualify for federal assistance. Mitigation activity can help communities reduce infrastructure damage and minimize recovery time after a disaster. Communities seeking to reduce disaster impact should follow these three types of mitigation activity:

  • Identify hazards and assess vulnerabilities
  • Advance action to minimize damage to infrastructure 
  • Use and share Mitigation Best Practices 

Does your community’s hurricane plan cover everything? Access more resources on CAI’s Community Disaster Preparedness & Relief pages.

HOAresources.com explores questions and comments from community association members living in condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives. We then assemble trusted experts to provide practical solutions to your most commonly asked, timely questions. We never use real names, but we always tackle real issues. Have a question or comment about your community association? Submit here for consideration:

Get More Expert Advice

Join CAI’s online community for access to the industry’s most in-demand community association resources.

Thousands of your peers are sharing advice.

Amy Repke

Amy Repke, Vice President, Communications & Marketing. Amy brings more than 15 years of experience to CAI. Amy’s communications career began in local television news and, most recently, she worked as a producer for USA Today Live and Fox News Channel’s Special Report in Washington, D.C. Amy has been nominated for four Washington Regional Emmy awards for writing and producing. Amy is a graduate of Old Dominion University and received a master’s degree in Strategic Public Communications from American University.