Is Your Community Prepared for the 2015 Hurricane Season?

Is Your Community Prepared for the 2015 Hurricane Season?

by Kathy Danforth / Published Jul 2015


The 2015 hurricane season is here. As it has been nine years since the last hurricane hit Florida, it might be easy for those who have not experienced a hurricane to shrug off preparing for it. While we desire a tenth season without a hurricane striking Florida, nothing is guaranteed, and it is far better to be prepared now for a potential storm. Therefore, FLCAJ has compiled a variety of best hurricane preparedness tips from service providers across a wide range of specialities. While this is not a comprehensive list, it is a very good start to preparing your community.


Are You Financially Ready?

by Janet Romano

June was the beginning of the hurricane season and all community association managers here in Florida should have been reviewing their disaster plans, working with their boards to update an older plan, or write a new one if none exists. Do you know if you are financially prepared?

Each association must determine how much cash is needed to meet the immediate needs after a storm that causes major damage. Here’s a simple way to calculate—add together the amount of your insurance deductible and the amount of uninsured assets (for example irrigation systems, landscaping losses and removal of debris, and perhaps some of your cabanas, storage buildings, and carports). That sum is the potential amount of funds needed. Using that number, you can determine if you have enough cash on hand; if you find you do not have enough in your bank accounts, you may want to consider a line of credit to meet emergency needs.

Associations may use reserve funds after a storm to prevent further damage to the property, but remember these funds must be replaced when the crisis has passed. If you determine you need a line of credit, the time to apply is before a storm strikes. It is best to have any loan facilities in place well before hurricane season so that you can rely on them if there is a loss.

Janet Romano is with Stonegate Bank. For more information, visit


Bee Protection

by Willie Skarloff

Covering windows with hurricane shutters or plywood provides protection from objects being blown into your home, but those coverings also provide protection for bees! Bees often build their hives in the space between windows and shutters, making layers of wax chambers. Honey bees love that secure space to build their colonies since that location gives them protection before, during, and after stormy conditions. 

During extended periods when the shutters or plywood remains in place, bees can accumulate rapidly. For example, in one year we removed more than 200 beehives throughout Florida from shuttered windows and boarded doors, and the hive populations ranged from 3,000 to 75,000 bees.

Also be aware that bees love to live beneath the floors of playsets, jungle gyms, and sheds; inside overturned objects like planters and boats; within piles of trash or tree trimmings; and in voids in the ground. After big rains, bees that are driven out of their homes must find dry sheltered areas, so people may be frightened by the cyclone swirling of bee swarms taking off from an old home or landing at a new one. Sometimes vacant hives become repopulated by another bee swarm, so, for your safety and the safety of your family and pets, it is best that all beehive wax and all bees are completely removed.

William Sklaroff is with Willie the Bee Man. For more information, visit


Common Sense Hurricane Preparatory Measures

by Tom Harman

Don’t live in Florida because of the hurricanes! It is common advice given to every Florida resident, current or prospective. Interestingly though, Florida has been hurricane-free (Cat 3 or stronger) for almost 3,500 days (Wilma 2005). Statistically though, it means we are overdue. 

Being respectful of the power and might of hurricanes is wise. They have the ability to cause mild to catastrophic damage with winds that could potentially exceed 150 miles per hour and flooding. So with the approach of hurricane season, there are some common sense preparatory measures that can increase the safety and security of your family and property. 

  • Be Aware—unlike many natural disasters, hurricanes provide ample notice.
  • Have a Plan—know the evacuation routes, create a home/property checklist, preplan a destination, and have an emergency kit.

Secure Your Home/Property Checklist:

  • Bring all outdoor furniture and potential projectiles inside
  • Trim dead tree branches
  • Board up windows/Use hurricane shutters
  • Be prepared to turn off the power
  • Lower the thermostat to refrigerator to the coldest possible setting
  • Turn off propane tanks

Hurricane Emergency Kit:

  • Water—at least a three-day supply
  • Food— at least a three-day supply
  • Flashlights
  • NOAA weather radio—battery powered
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation items
  • Copies of personal documents—birth certificates, insurance policies, etc.
  • Cell phone with wall and car chargers
  • Cash
  • Blankets
  • Paper maps of your area
  • Extra car keys
  • Extra clothing
  • Rain gear
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Non-Electronic items for entertainment

Tom Harman is with Everglades Security. For more information, visit


Examine, Review, and Look

by Andy Schrader, P.E.

Preparation prior to the storm is key, because even the most basic repair materials like plywood and blue roof tarps will be hard to find once the hurricane warning is broadcast. 

First, examine your rooftop equipment for potential fly-away objects. Are the AC condensing units strapped to the racks? And are the racks attached to the roof, or are they just 4 x 4 wood posts laid sideways? Also, check the lubrication and operational status of your roll-down or accordion shutters right now and regularly. Once a hurricane warning is issued, remove lightweight items like outdoor furniture and potted plants.

Next, review your protection methods for windows and doors. Use storm shutters or similar barriers with a Florida Product Approval number, and ideally a Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance (NOA), which is the highest possible rating. Also, install impact-resistant windows and doors whenever possible. They are of paramount importance because once the exterior envelope is breached structural collapse becomes far more likely. 

After the storm, look for structural damage like cracked walls or holes in the roof. If it’s visible, chances are there is even worse damage that is hidden. At that point, residents should be kept out pending review by a licensed structural engineer—not a contractor, not a police officer, and not even that one board member who “used to be” an engineer! 

Andy Schrader, P.E., is with Karins Engineering. For more information, visit


Hurricane Readiness Plan

by Colin Swaysland

Consider adding a hurricane readiness plan to your concrete restoration agreement. Like other best management practices taken in advance of a storm, a hurricane readiness plan aims to secure and protect community association structures. In addition to the steps necessary to secure areas and elements under construction, the plan will outline the removal and secure storage of any swing stages, scaffolding, dumpsters, equipment, and materials.

A successful hurricane readiness plan will outline exactly what actions will be taken, both before and after the storm. As the storm approaches, pay attention to the escalating warnings: e.g., named storm, named hurricane, hurricane watch, and hurricane warning. This is important because a reported hurricane warning may require extra actions to be taken above those needed for a reported hurricane watch.

While a hurricane readiness plan will not keep a storm at bay, it will help to secure and protect community association structures during restoration. “We recommend all our association clients add a hurricane readiness plan to their restoration agreements” says Evan Swaysland, Project Engineer with Swaysland Professional Engineering Consultants, Inc. “While it won’t make weathering the storm any easier, it will ensure that protocols are in place to protect your building.”

Colin Swaysland is with Swaysland Professional Engineering Consultants, Inc. For more information, visit


Insure And Protect Your Property

by Stephen Jones

Well Before the Storm:

  • Work with your insurance agent to ensure that all buildings the association wants protected by insurance are listed on the policy and for the appropriate amounts. Property appraisals are a key part of this pre-storm strategy.
  • Set up a disaster plan with your agent so that everyone knows their role once a storm hits, providing for a prompt and efficient adjustment of the claim by the insurance carrier.

Just Prior to the Storm:

  • Protect property by storing chairs, tables, etc. that can become airborne during high winds.
  • Cover windows where practical.
  • Alert residents to safe areas of the complex or to storm shelters within the community.

After the storm:

  • Where possible, take action to limit additional damage or injury by preventing the public from entering areas with storm damage. Cover damaged roofs and walls as soon as practical.
  • Contact your insurance company and/or agent immediately if damage is discovered. Get the adjuster on site as soon as possible to expedite the claim process.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask questions of the adjuster so that there is an understanding of the claim process from both sides. Open communication is key to resolving the claim as quickly and in the most positive manner possible.

Stephen Jones is with Herbie Wiles Insurance. For more information, visit


Know Your Function

by Carl Forrest

Prior to a hurricane, it is important to have two break downs: employees and residents. It is of key importance that employees know what their functions are before the storm hits; secure all items that can be blown away, place furnishings in a secure location; check for safety equipment, lighting, generators, etc. Finally have a plan to check all residential units and residents. Make sure that pictures are taken of everything, roofs, pool areas, tennis courts, club house, exercise rooms, etc. Employee schedules should be made so each employee knows times that they should be available. Residents…be sure that all residents are aware of evacuation routes, make sure that they have any medication they may require, fuel for vehicle(s), emergency suitcase with several days of clothing, money (cash), and planned care for pets. 

After the storm, the first thing is to take pictures of everything. Clear a pathway from anything dangerous, water, electrical, etc. Check all units for damage; take pictures. Check elevators, contact your insurance company for activation of a claim, obtain estimates for any damages, and contact your landscaper or in-house staff for clearing trees or other damaged landscaping. Check the pool for contamination, adjust chemicals as needed, return all furniture to its proper location, and check elevators for functional use.

Carl Forrest is with FPMC Management Corp. For more information, visit


Preparation is the Key

by Star Herbig

As with every hurricane season, planning for the unexpected is the basic essential of survival. The wind can blow at any time resulting in a hurricane, tropical storm, or maybe just a tropical depression. The storm can be classified as a Watch, Warning, or Extreme Wind Warning/Advisory.

During a watch, prepare your home and have an evacuation plan in case a warning is issued. During a warning, carefully follow the directions of officials, and immediately leave the area if they advise it. In the event of an Extreme Wind Warning/Advisory—winds of 115 mph or greater are expected to begin within an hour—immediately take shelter in the interior portion of a well-built structure.

Having a hurricane kit readily available in the case of an evacuation is critical. Here are some recommended items:

  • Non-perishable food and water (enough to last at least three days)
  • Medicines for all family members, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, and a first aid kit
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Flashlights (with correct size extra batteries)
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Waterproof container with cash and important documents
  • Manual can opener, lighter, or matches
  • Books, magazines, games for recreation
  • Special needs items: pet supplies and baby supplies if applicable
  • Cooler and ice packs
  • A plan for evacuation and a plan for if family members are separated

Health/Safety: The CDC has a great guide on how to stay safe in the event of a power outage:

Secure your home or condominium quickly to minimize the storm impact:

  • Cover all of your windows, either with hurricane shutters or wood
  • Make sure all trees and shrubs are trimmed and clear rain gutters
  • Reinforce your garage doors if applicable
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans, umbrellas, and other items easily airborne.
  • If winds become strong, stay away from windows and doors and close, secure, and brace internal doors

Preparation is the key. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare.

Star Herbig is with Herbig Insurance Group (HIG). For more information, visit


Protection From Wind-Driven Objects

by Donald Chalaire, P.E.

A hurricane is a wide and powerful storm of wind-driven rain. Florida building codes require buildings, windows, and anything attached to buildings to withstand these wind forces. Buildings just don’t fall down. However, if items attached to buildings are loose or not fastened well, they can come off, including old roofing systems, shutters, light fixtures, and antennas that have corroded fasteners. We have even seen soffit systems over walkways come down because of hidden, rusted fasteners due to roof leaks. 

Wind-driven objects can cause lots of damage. These objects can fly sideways for incredible distances. Light objects fly further than heavy objects. Almost any object can break a window if it hits it just right. Florida building codes have not always required windows to withstand flying objects but recently added them to the codes. The concern is that if a window is broken, the full wind force will enter the building interior, which can blow out interior walls and blow off roofs. While covering windows with plywood or shutters has been the usual way to protect windows, more recent advances with impact-resistant windows have become available. Impact-resistant windows have two layers of glass with an embedded plastic film similar to an automobile windshield. The glass can break, but the plastic keeps the wind out.  

Even today’s best manufactured operable windows and doors will not keep water from entering interior areas. All movable windows, whether impact glass or not will have water leaks when winds exceed 75 mph. The most important step to consider is to protect windows and sliding glass doors from breakage by looking around, anticipating, and removing all the items in view that can come flying in with the wind. This might even include your own shutters. They can only protect windows if they are operable and in good condition.

Donald Chalaire, P.E., is with Chalaire and Associates. For more information, visit


Your Lakes Help Protect You During Hurricane Season

by Brian Fischer

Lakes are ubiquitous throughout Florida and provide recreational use while adding aesthetic value to our communities. What most people don’t know is that these natural resources provide protection from flooding and were designed to do so! As part of the stormwater system, it is imperative that precautions be taken to ensure that they stand ready for hurricane season. Here are a few key factors to watch for:

  • Invasive, exotic plants grow fast and can take over a lake quickly. When an invader such as Hydrilla enters a waterway, this weed can take over the lake and prevent water from being held, which increases the flooding hazard. Keeping invasive species in check will allow the lakes to function properly.
  • Keep an eye on the storm drains that go into the lakes. Make sure that they are not blocked up or grown over. If these are blocked, they do not function as intended and back up or overwhelm other parts of the stormwater system.
  • Make sure swales in the neighborhood are not loaded with debris or filled in. These swales are intended to hold and retain water, and if blocked will send the water elsewhere. This again can create a flooding hazard for the community. Keeping an eye on these few items will go a long way in making sure your stormwater system is prepared for the upcoming hurricane season.

Brian Fischer is with Lake & Wetland Management. For more information, visit


What Does It Mean to be “Hurricane Ready”?

by Dan Tiernan

What does it mean to be hurricane ready? It is all about thinking through the process from start to finish. Here is what the Campbell managers we polled told us:

  • Do you have a written plan? This is where it all starts. Many of us are familiar with the saying “if we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” 
  • Have you prepared for the season? Once you have the plan, you must execute it. Trim all trees, check each generator (fuel included), verify supplies, and inspect each drainage system for any potential blocks. Don’t forget to make sure all key vendors are prepared, too.
  • Do you know what to do immediately before the storm? What properties need to be secured, and who needs to do it? Do hurricane shutters need to be installed? How do you communicate all of this information with residents?
  • How do you operate during the storm? What are the responsibilities of the board, staff, and owners during the storm? What should people expect? Should we advise owners on what foods and/or supplies they should stock up on?
  • What do you do after the storm? How do you contact your key vendors in case of issues? Have you established a response/priority level? How, when, and what do we communicate with owners?

This post is by no means meant to be a comprehensive tutorial on hurricane preparedness. However, we hope that our managers have reminded you of the breadth and depth required to be truly prepared.

Dan Tiernan is with Campbell Property Management. For more information, visit