Are you ready for the next Sandy?

The  recent hurricane on the East Coast may be over, but the cleanup process  is just now beginning. Beyond debris pickup, property managers and  owners across the area are learning what preparations worked well, and  what they can do better next time.

Photo credit: S. Shepherd. Click on the image for more from this photographer.

Regardless  of your location, this is a good time to ask yourself if you would have  been ready to handle Sandy. Disasters such as these should move us to preventative action.

Thankfully, the fourth edition of Before and After Disaster Strikes: Developing an Emergency Procedures Manual from the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) has arrived on the  scene just in time to help property managers and other owners get  started on this vital, yet daunting process.

Far  from just counting fire extinguishers and first aid kits, this book  offers checklists of the more obvious risk management activities (broken  out by both disaster and building types), and a comprehensive look at  the more esoteric, easily forgotten elements of disaster planning. Are  you storing the right types of information backups, so you can get back  to normal business operations ASAP? Do you have the right kind of  insurance? How will you get the word out to tenants, as well as  outsiders and the media?

However,  the main purpose of this book is to help you establish an emergency  procedures plan, including considerations such as how tenant profiles  can change the nature of your plan, how incident reporting procedures  should work, and more. This handbook also includes a helpful overview of the  key emergency management players whose knowledge and specialization you  should tap to create your plan. Also, this book covers  federal laws governing your emergency response, so you can plan in  compliance.

Turning back to Sandy and friends, Before and After Disaster Strikes notes  that, in the U.S., 63 million permanent residents live in  hurricane-prone zones, with more arriving as tourists. Here are some  tips for how to prepare for the next Sandy from IREM’s chapter on  hurricanes:

  • Consider  purchasing permanent storm shutters for windows. If that investment  turns out to be too costly, have ⅝-inch marine plywood pre-cut for all  of your windows ahead of time, so that this protective barrier is on site  and ready to install.
  • Get  flood insurance. Most property and weather-related insurance does not  include this in flood-prone zones. Don’t assume you can pick this up last-minute, either; most flood  insurance has a 5-day waiting period before it goes into effect.
  • Consider purchasing back-up systems, including:
    • portable water-removal pumps
    • battery-powered emergency lighting
    • gasoline-powered generators