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Start Now: Prepare Your CRE Property for Hurricane Season

April 10, 2019

Don’t wait for the warnings

While it may seem a far way off, June 1 is right around the corner – the start of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. You don’t have to be a meteorologist or climatologist to know the far-reaching effects that hurricanes have on South Florida. After a storm hits, the future of the local economy sometimes hangs in the balance, and CRE plays a crucial role in helping get businesses and neighborhoods back on their feet.

This makes it all the more important to set your disaster preparation in motion to protect your commercial property from mother nature’s wrath.

Review your insurance policy

Don’t wait until your property is in the midst of repairs or a rebuild to consult your insurance policy. When prepared properly, these policies are living documents, adapting to the ever-shifting risk landscape. Review them annually, if not more frequently, to be sure they accurately reflect your understanding of what will happen once they take effect.

Some questions to consider:

  • Do you have a flood insurance policy through either the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private company, and what does it cover? Policies through NFIP are often insufficient to cover most commercial property needs.
  • Are there any limitations – in any policy – on coverage in the event of a hurricane or named tropical storm?
  • Does each tenant have mandatory insurance (if so, usually required in the lease)? And if they do, do they have proof of insurance?

Make a plan

When that “Hurricane Watch” alert flashes across your screen, it is typically too late to begin complete preparations for what’s likely to come. Ideally, the planning process begins every January – just over a month after the close of the previous season – which will give you the time and clarity to properly plan your disaster response.

Every CRE business should have the following on their active agenda, even while hurricane season is the faintest glimmer in the distance:

  • Write a hurricane plan with step-by-step instructions for each stakeholder on how to protect your facilities during the storm. This should include a communications component that outlines the property manager’s responsibilities to keep key personnel informed throughout the hurricane and its aftermath.
  • Be clear about what triggers the plan going into effect.
  • Set evacuation procedures and allot certain times of the year to drill your teams in them.
  • Establish protocols to secure and safely back up all digital properties and equipment.

Once that “Watch” bulletin pops up, these protocols should be put into action. If you wait until the alert elevates to a “Hurricane Warning,” time may not be on your side. As always, contact your local emergency management agency to learn about specific risks in your area.

Hurricane-proof the property

Some hurricane preparations will come in the form of standard facility maintenance, such as trimming trees, cleaning roofs, and clearing gutters. But there are a number of additional steps to take in order to fully protect your property:

  • Examine all doors, windows, and the roof to make sure they will keep out water and strong winds.
  • Stock extra fuel for generators (and test them regularly).
  • Securely store outdoor fixtures including building signage, trash cans, and promotional displays.
  • Book your clean-up crew now and avoid the scramble after the storm hits.

Stock your supplies

In the event that a storm temporarily forces you and your staff to hunker down at work, you’ll want a fully-stocked supply of essentials to get you through until the sun shines again. Some items to include:

  • Food and water, such as non-perishables (energy bars, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, and canned items) and at least three days of purified water (typically two quarts per day, per person).
  • Flashlights, glow sticks, and flares.
  • An up-to-date First Aid kit that includes supplies to treat broken bones and heavy bleeding. When the storm hits, it is not a good time to discover you have torn bandages or expired medications.
  • Lightweight blankets with fire and shock retardant.
  • Two-way radios, portable radios, and, of course, batteries. Also consider radios that power up by crank and don’t require electricity (many of them can also charge your phone).

South Florida has – and needs – a lot of experience in hurricane prep

While the exact path and timing of a storm can be uncertain, the preparations needed to withstand it are not. With proper planning and regular maintenance, your team and your property will be ready when the winds begin to blow. Such diligence minimized the impact of Hurricane Irma on South Florida’s CRE market and set new national benchmarks for building codes and construction standards. Morris Southeast Group is proud to serve this market and invite you to consider partnering with us. For a free consultation on commercial real estate investment or property management services, call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

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