Prepare for Disaster

Prepare for Disaster

Photo by Dato

     Editor’s Note: Researchers at Colorado State University are predicting 23 named storms in the Atlantic Ocean this year and 11 hurricanes, with five of those turning into major hurricanes. In short, the 2024 Atlantic basin hurricane season is expected to be extremely active. The best practices below are provided to help you weather this hurricane season well.

Emergency Preparedness Tips for Board Members
By Ana Rivero 

     As board members in South Florida, addressing emergency events is critical. Here are three tips to help you prepare. 

Have a Comprehensive Disaster Preparedness Plan 

     Every association should have a robust emergency response plan tailored to the community, including the following:

  • Clearly marked evacuation routes and well-known procedures
  • A reliable communication system to alert residents
  • Regular preparedness drills involving residents
  • A connection with emergency services to check plans and provide support 

Enhance Building Envelope Safety 

  • Ensure the structural integrity of buildings through regular inspections/maintenance. Focus on the following:
  • Vulnerabilities like loose roofing tiles or non-impact-resistant windows
  • Maintaining waterproofing measures
  • Inspecting for cracks or signs of weakness 

Maintain Proper Insurance Coverage

  • Conduct annual reviews of policies with a qualified broker. It should include the following:
  • Property insurance to cover damage to buildings and common areas
  • Flood insurance, especially in flood-prone areas of South Florida
  • General liability insurance and D&O to protect against claims 

     Ana Rivero is the president and business development coordinator at Allied Property Group. Call 305-232-1579 or visit for more information.

Think about Pavement Maintenance
By Connie Lorenz

     Usually pavement maintenance is the last thing anyone thinks about unless, of course, a pothole or depression appears overnight; or perhaps another community is having work done and your board has a FOMO moment and decides they need to do the work as well. However, when it comes to any asphalt maintenance program, just remember that there is a big difference in pricing between preventive maintenance versus crisis management. One is planned for, investigated thoroughly, and set up specifically for the long-term benefit of the community. The other is more of an “Oh no!” moment where emergency measures must be taken to resolve the problem, usually coming at a premium price! Investing in an asphalt maintenance program is one of the best investments any community can make rather than dealing with things “as they appear.” Do you need help in finding out what you have, where you are going, and what you need to do to get there with your asphalt maintenance program? We can help!

     Connie Lorenz is president of Asphalt Restoration Technology Systems. For more information, call 800-254-4732, email, or visit

Designed with Weather in Mind
By Keith Minarik

     During a hurricane, safety is always the top priority, with the ability to stay connected to your loved ones and community a close second. Fiber-optic cables are designed with weather in mind as they are typically buried underground, making them incredibly resistant to the impact of natural disasters and less susceptible to damage from high winds or flooding.

     Not only does fiber internet offer faster speeds and greater bandwidth than traditional internet services, but it also ensures uninterrupted connectivity during a hurricane. This means you can stay in touch with loved ones, access critical information, and keep your security and smart devices online, all without the worry of slow or intermittent internet speeds.

     While your internet service provider will be working to keep you connected, it is important to be as prepared as possible, particularly in areas where weather-related issues are the norm. Investing in surge protectors and making sure you are backing up important documents on an external hard drive can ensure peace of mind.

     Keith Minarik is vice president of community development with Blue Stream Fiber. To find out more about how Blue Stream Fiber can keep you connected during hurricane season, visit

Is Your Association Ready for a Hurricane?
By Ashley Dietz-Gray

     The official hurricane season for the Atlantic basin is from June 1 to November 30, with peak activity occurring between mid-August and mid-October. Being fully prepared for hurricane season is not a simple task. Now is the time to double check and make sure that your community is fully prepared.

     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 items need to be secured and who needs to do it? Do hurricane shutters need to be deployed? How do you communicate 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 owners be advised 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 you communicate with owners?

     Ashley Dietz-Gray is vice president of marketing for Campbell Property Management. For more information, call 561-704-4042, email, or visit

Establishing a Robust Emergency Response Plan (ERP)
By Castle Group

     A well-crafted emergency response plan (ERP) is essential for minimizing damage and ensuring the safety of residents during various disasters. Here’s how you can optimize your plan. 

     Identify Potential Risks—Conduct a thorough assessment of potential hazards specific to your community, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and structural/building envelope safety concerns.

     Develop Clear Protocols—Outline the procedures to follow before, during, and after a disaster.   

     Establish Communication Channels—Utilize email, text, social media, and a centralized communication hub to keep residents informed and updated. 

     Educate Residents—Regularly educate residents about the ERP and safety protocols.

     Maintain Adequate Insurance Coverage—Review policies to confirm adequate coverage for property damage, liability, and other related expenses. 

     Regularly Review and Update the Plan—Schedule regular reviews of the ERP and update protocols based on evolving best practices. 

     By establishing and updating an emergency response plan, CAMs and boards can effectively mitigate risks, enhance safety, and minimize the impact of disasters on the community.

     To learn more about how Castle Group can serve you, request a proposal at

A Good Post-storm Recovery Plan
By Trisha Fohr

     A good post-storm recovery plan should be part of storm preparedness.  Powerful storms can be very destructive to community associations and cause extensive property damage.  There are some steps you can take immediately after a storm has occurred in your community.

Stay Safe

     Make sure your residents are safe and out of harm’s way.  Avoid fallen trees or damaged roadways.  Report downed power lines to local authorities. 

Check for Storm Damage

     The property manager and maintenance supervisor should do a full inspection of the property for damage and mechanical failures. 

Work with the Association’s Insurance Provider

    Take photos of damage before anything has been moved or removed.  Address any additional issues and communicate progress with the board.

Begin Storm Damage Repair

     Leave the storm damage restoration to the professionals. The property manager can help by developing a project schedule and by keeping the board updated on the recovery plan.

     Trisha Fohr, CAM, is an association banking relationship manager for Centennial Bank. For more information, call 561-354-4283, email, and visit

Review Your Insurance Coverage Today
By Sean Friend

     Well in advance of hurricane season, be sure to review your insurance policies. Many insurance policies require 30 days to take effect—purchasing one when a storm is impending may be too late. Be sure to effectively document and report your assets (pictures are useful!) so that should your association experience damage, you’ll be reimbursed for all your losses (after the deductible). Keep copies of insurance policies in a secure location outside of your association premises.

     Insurance companies in Florida may charge additional deductibles for hurricanes, and damage caused by flooding is often not part of standard insurance policies. Carefully read all of the terms of your policy and speak to your agent about coverage questions you may have or about purchasing additional insurance.

     Lastly, it may be a while before you receive a payout from your insurance company. That’s why it’s important to maintain an emergency expense fund or a business line of credit to cover necessary repair and cleanup costs in the interim. Contact Cogent Bank today to learn more about the options available to you.

     Sean Friend is SVP, commercial banking relationship manager, in our Fort Myers Banking Center. Friend can be reached at 239-766-8936 or via email at

Enhancing Condominium Disaster Preparedness: A CAM’s Guide
By Kyle A. Alonso

     In the dynamic landscape of condominium management, disaster preparedness stands as a cornerstone of effective governance. For community association managers and board members, familiarity with the condominium property and proactively addressing safety and security concerns can mitigate risks and safeguard residents’ well-being.

     A key tip for enhancing disaster preparedness is to be intimately familiar with any ongoing projects on the condominium property and to conduct regular safety assessments and drills tailored to specific threats. From hurricanes to active shooter situations, familiarity with the present conditions of the association property breeds confidence and readiness. Additionally, ensuring proper insurance coverage is essential for financial protection in the aftermath of disasters.

     By investing time to and resources into comprehensive disaster preparedness plans, CAMs and board members can save not only lives but also valuable time, money, and anxiety in the face of an emergency. Prioritizing safety and security empowers condominium communities to weather any storm and emerge stronger together.

     Kyle A. Alonso is a senior associate with Haber Law. For more information, email or visit

Communication Is Key for Disaster Preparedness
By Marcy Kravit, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, CFCAM

     Effective communication and collaboration with your telecommunications provider, like Hotwire Communications, are vital for ensuring community safety during storms and disasters.

     Key steps for enhancing disaster preparedness include understanding provider emergency procedures, updating contact information, reviewing insurance coverage, planning for power outages, reinforcing structural safety, and staying informed on alerts. Establishing a robust communication plan is crucial to keeping residents connected and informed.

     Providers like Hotwire Communications offer tailored channels, text alerts, and email notifications to support community communication during emergencies.

     By choosing a provider with comprehensive disaster communication capabilities, such as pre-, mid-, and post-disaster support, you can ensure your community is well prepared and receives the necessary assistance when needed.

     Marcy Kravit, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, CFCAM, is director of community association relations with Hotwire Communications, which has received multiple Stevie Awards for customer service, including being recognized for their recovery efforts following Hurricane Ian in 2022.

Emergency Powers
By Michael S. Bender, Esq., BCS

     In Florida, community associations have emergency powers granted under the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act and the Florida Condominium Act. These emergency powers, which came to the forefront during the COVID-19 era, allow associations to take immediate action to protect the health, safety, and welfare of residents during a state of emergency. The powers include the ability to conduct emergency board meetings, enter into contracts without competitive bidding, and levy special assessments. Associations can also implement temporary rules and regulations to address the emergency situation. It is important for associations to follow proper procedures, provide notice to residents, and document all actions taken under emergency powers. These powers are meant to ensure that community associations can effectively respond to emergencies and protect the well-being of their residents. For more detailed information, please contact your association counsel.

     Michael S. Bender, Esq., BCS, is a firm member of Kaye Bender Rembaum. For more information, call 800-974-0680, email, or visit

Prioritize Insurance This Hurricane Season
By Roxana Dorigo

     Florida insurance costs continue to put a significant financial burden on communities, with fewer options to choose from in the tight marketplace. Community associations and property managers must prioritize these ongoing insurance challenges when making their annual disaster preparedness checklists.

     Consider inviting insurance agents to discuss the current insurance landscape and recent regulatory and legislative actions taken that could positively impact our state. For instance, Florida regulators approved a plan that could transition certain condominium association policies from the state’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp. to the Condo Owners Reciprocal Exchange. During the annual Florida legislative session, a measure to help owners whose policies were transferred to Citizens from private insurers move back to other carriers was signed into law.

     These measures could create more competition, which in turn could lower rates. In the meantime, communities should review their existing policies and consult with experts to ensure they have the most cost-effective and protective policies in place.

     Roxana Dorigo is executive director of association finance. For more information on KW PROPERTY MANAGEMENT & CONSULTING, contact Roxana Dorigo at 305-476-9188, email, or visit

Five Phases of Emergency Management
By Robyn Rocco

     I’ve become very familiar with the five phases of emergency management while living in Florida all my life—prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.  It’s important to have a proper plan and reliable vendors to help you properly manage emergency situations.  We recommend an experienced insurance agent to ensure that you are fully covering your assets and exposed risks. Not only will they recommend policies to put in place for the protection of the association, but also assessors will suggest measures that will help reduce the effects of hazards.  We have also learned that fully funding reserves and creating additional insurance investment accounts are of benefit to further prevent financial loss after a catastrophic event.  Communities can prepare by taking advantage of Florida’s tax-free week for all things related to emergency preparedness, especially hurricane related.  In a state of emergency, it’s important for boards to stick to their plan and to take advice from management or the designated response team in a timely manner in order to avoid additional losses.  Based in Lee County, we have been proudly serving Florida for over 65 years. 

     Robyn Rocco is vice president at Landex Resorts International Inc. For more information call 239-369-5848 or visit

Meeting the Many Post-Hurricane Challenges
By Sarah Metcalf, CFCAM, CMCA, AMS, PCAM

     Post-hurricane recovery poses many challenges, including no energy, downed trees, debris everywhere, and no running water during high temperatures. Here are a few tips from an association manager.

     Before storm season arrives, do an assessment of trees and trim where needed. Don’t forget about drainage.  Have ground staff walk all culverts to ensure the flow of water during and after the storm.

     Prepare a work disaster supply kit—This includes water bottles for employees who are able to show up and assist in the cleanup effort.  Pick up some snacks such as chips and chocolate. I also recommend extra batteries for walkie talkies, tools, and flashlights.  If you don’t have a gas tank on your property, make sure to fill gas cans for the chainsaws.

     Call your tree and roof vendors to ensure they are on standby for your association.

     After the storm, check the county lift stations and request generators from the county if there is no power to the lift station(s).

     Most importantly, make sure to give staff extra breaks from the heat and time off as they also suffered during the storm.

      Sarah Metcalf, PCAM, CFCAM, CMCA, AMS, is the business manager for Pelican Cove Condominium Association, a 75-acre gated community along Little Sarasota Bay in Sarasota, Florida. The Cove has 731 homes within six informal neighborhoods. For more information, visit

Did You Know? 
By Paige Gantt

     Did you know the number of expected 2024 Atlantic-named storms is 23 of which 11 will become hurricanes? With that in mind, here are five ways to protect your condominium or HOA association.

  • Communicate your hurricane plan to employees and residents
  • Invest in storm shutters
  • Protect vital records
  • Have cash on hand
  • Check your backup generator

     The following reminders are important:

     After a loss, be sure to take pictures, keep receipts, hire licensed and insured vendors, and report a claim as soon as possible.

     If you haven’t checked your insurance policies, now is the time. Remember, flood insurance is not included in your homeowners’ or property insurance policy. It could take 30 days for a flood policy to take effect.

     Call us for a flood quote now!

     Paige Gantt is Sales and Marketing Manager at Plastridge Insurance Agency. For more information, call us at 561-276-5221 or visit  

How Effective Communication Saves Time in Disasters
By Camille Moore

     Effective communication protocols are invaluable assets for board members and community association managers (CAMs) in disaster preparedness. Clear channels of communication can significantly save time, money, and anxiety before and after a disaster strikes. Before an event occurs, establishing communication systems that ensure swift dissemination of information to residents, emergency services, and relevant stakeholders can streamline response efforts and minimize confusion.

     In addition, during the aftermath of a disaster, effective communication enables quick dissemination of critical updates regarding safety measures, recovery efforts, and available resources. By keeping all stakeholders informed and connected, board members and CAMs can reduce anxiety among residents, facilitate timely assistance, and expedite the restoration of normalcy. Ultimately, investing time and resources in establishing and maintaining clear communication channels can prove invaluable in safeguarding the well-being of the community during times of crisis.

     Camille Moore is a creative content writer for RealManage. For more information, email or visit

Construction Projects in the Aftermath of a Natural Disaster 
By Traci Lehman 

     Does your community’s board know what to do after a disaster? Associations should take steps to ensure timely and organized recovery efforts in the wake of a disaster. With the help of your community manager, you will need to quickly select quality vendors to ensure you can restore normalcy in your community as soon as possible.

     After an extreme weather event, your community should identify potential physical risks to shared spaces, roads, and dwellings and outline action steps for community-vendor communication and recovery project coordination.  

     Community management companies like Sentry Management often offer vital recovery resources through vendor partner networks. For example, Sentry works with a vendor specializing in large-scale construction projects, which can be onsite within as little as a day to assess the damage, provide estimates, work with your insurer, and develop a timeline to complete the work. Using a vendor partner to streamline post-disaster repair projects can help minimize disruptions and expedite recovery for your community. 

     Traci Lehman is the executive vice president of association management for Sentry Management. For more information, visit  

Four Lake Maintenance Tips for Communities Preparing for Hurricanes
By SOLitude Lake Management

     Florida communities face heightened risks during hurricane season, emphasizing the importance of proactive measures. With lakes and stormwater ponds vulnerable, these four tips can help communities safeguard their aquatic assets.

     Debris Management—Clear debris and trash from yards and streets to prevent blockages in storm drains, reducing flooding risks.

     Equipment Safety—Shut off or remove non-essential electric equipment in lakes and ponds to prevent storm damage. Installing anemometers can automatically cut power during high winds.

     Aeration Strategies—Combat fish kills, common during and after hurricanes, by maintaining oxygen levels with aeration systems.

     Professional Inspection—Regular inspections can identify and address infrastructure issues before hurricanes strike, helping reduce potential damage.

     Download our free guide for more information on how to protect your waterbody from storms and ensure its health and functionality post-storm.

     To learn how SOLitude Lake Management can help you achieve clean, beautiful water, visit or call 888-480-5253.

Pre-Loss Planning: Your Key To Faster Claim Settlement Checks
By Rick Tutwiler

     Don’t wait for disaster to strike—insurance companies demand extensive documentation after a loss. This is where pre-loss planning comes into play. Professional adjusters are engaged before a loss to review your policy, conduct a property risk assessment, and document the condition of the property, as well as create a post-loss recovery plan with emphasis on having the documentation required to get your claim processed and paid. Tutwiler & Associates’ Disaster First Recovery Program encompasses these services.

     Calculating damages is only one part of the property claims adjusting dynamic. Insurance adjusting isn’t just estimating; it’s also investigating! From the insurance carrier’s perspective, they want to know 

1)  Is the loss covered?
2)  Is there pre-existing damage?
3)  What is the amount of loss? 

     These issues can be answered with proper record retention and documentation and can be presented in a timely and professional manner after a loss has occurred, provided you have the foresight to organize these materials. A proactive association board will reap the benefits of faster claims processing when disaster strikes.

     Rick Tutwiler is president of Tutwiler & Associates Public Adjusters. For more information, call 800-321-4488 or visit

Fostering a Culture of Disaster Preparedness
By Tara Tallaksen

     Disaster preparedness is crucial for homeowners’ associations (HOAs) to ensure the safety and security of their communities. With natural disasters becoming increasingly frequent and severe, HOAs must take proactive measures to protect their residents and property.

     First, HOAs should develop comprehensive emergency plans tailored to their specific geographical risks, whether it’s hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, or floods. These plans should outline evacuation routes, emergency shelters, and communication strategies to keep residents informed during crises.

     Second, regular maintenance and inspection of community infrastructure, such as drainage systems and buildings, can mitigate potential risks and prevent disasters before they occur.

     Additionally, fostering a culture of preparedness among residents through education and training programs can empower them to take swift and appropriate action during emergencies.

     By prioritizing disaster preparedness, HOAs can minimize the impact of disasters on their communities and ensure a safer environment for all residents.

     Tara Tallaksen is a sales and marketing assistant for Vesta Property Services. For more information contact us at 877-988-3782 or visit

Seven Ways to Fortify Your Home While Vacationing
By Ron Allen

     When on vacation FORTIFY your home with the following:

     F—Find a friend or relative to house sit for you. A trusted friend or relative can either house sit or check on your premises from time to time.

     O—Own a security system. The security system, complete with signs warning people that you have a system, will scare most criminals away.

     R—Remember to stop your mail.

     T—Take care of your yard. The idea is to make it look like someone is there. Hire a service or depend upon the friend or relative mentioned above or give everything a good trimming before your vacation.

     I—Interior lights need to be burning at times throughout the day and night.

     F—Focus on access. Be sure to lock doors and windows. Cut the garage power off so that someone cannot open your garage from another garage opener.

     Y—Your social media should not broadcast your vacation.  You are announcing “come get my stuff.”

     Ron Allen is vice president of business development for Weiser Security Services. For more information, call 813-557-3565, email, or visit