Preparing Multi-Housing Units for Future Hurricanes

First an earthquake, and then a hurricane (or tropical storm, depending on where you were)…The East Coast has had its fair share of natural disasters this August.

New York—First an earthquake, and then a hurricane (or tropical storm, depending on where you were)…The East Coast has had its fair share of natural disasters this August.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, 1 million East Coast residents were left without power, including an estimated 775,000 houses in New Jersey and 300,000 in North Carolina. This was the first hurricane to hit land in New Jersey since 1903.

Additionally, at press time, Hurricane Irene was being blamed for the deaths of 35 people in 10 states.

In the event of a future hurricane, there are many steps that multi-housing owners can take to minimize damage.

“The real key is to take a proactive approach, because there will be damage,” Marshall Rosen, managing director, Solomon Organization in Summit, N.J., tells MHN. “We want to keep residents and employees as safe as possible.”

Solomon, which has 10,000 units throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, provided all property managers with emergency planning books prior to Hurricane Irene. These listed 19 items for staff to check for, including checking to make sure sub-level apartments had pumps in case of flooding, roofs had tarps set up. Staff also made sure their vehicles had gas, and had petty cash and credit cards in case they needed to help residents.

Additionally, Rosen says that contractors and landscapers were contacted in advance to provide quick clean up if there was any damage after the hurricane.

“It was really about making sure staff and residents were prepared,” Rosen says.

In the event of a hurricane or natural disaster, apartment tenants should be instructed to:

  • Stock up on essentials such as water and non-perishable food (and get a manual can opener)
  • Have charged batteries and working flashlights
  • Keep a first aid kit
  • Carry cash in case credit cards can’t be used due to a power failure
  • Secure any sliding doors to patios and balconies
  • Protect all windows with boards or shutters; tape is ineffective

For additional information for multifamily protection in the event of a hurricane or natural disaster, including information on filing insurance claims, read “Avoiding a Multifamily Meltdown” on MHN.

“[You have to] plan for the worst, and hope for the best,” Rosen says. “And, fortunately, we did.”