By Leo Cannyn, PMP, P.E., ENV SP
Principal Project Manager
Beryl Engineering & Inspection 

June 1 is the official first day of hurricane season. Of course, after a busy year in 2022, the last thing anyone wants to think about is storm preparation. However, here we go again. Is your homeowner’s or condo owner’s association ready?

Florida law recognizes associations’ rights to have emergency powers if you live in, or manage a condominium or homeowners association. Florida Statute 718.1265 was enacted for condominiums, and Florida Statute 720.316 for homeowners associations. Therefore, it is important to make yourself familiar with what needs to be done before and after a storm as it relates to emergency procedures.

However, one of the most essential things in preparing for any storm is ensuring your family, and your residents are safe. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your Florida community association for this year’s hurricane season:

Insurance: Well before the threat of a storm, HOAs and COAs should make sure all insurance policies are up-to-date. When it comes time to file a claim, it is critical to have all common buildings, gates, lighting, etc., covered to prevent having to assess your community with the cost of any repairs.

Potential Loss of Power: At some point, power will be lost. Print out any information ahead of time to ensure key personnel have the necessary contact information for board members, members of the association, and management. Additionally, ensure you have copies of insurance paperwork and phone numbers for utilities and emergency services.

Evacuation Routes: Your residents should know all evacuation routes. Be sure any maps are posted in the hallways, at the gatehouse, next to the elevator, and in any common areas. Identify residents with special needs, list them by unit, and develop an evacuation plan to step in if needed.

Protect Your Property: Ensure your association’s facilities are readily protected by covering windows, doors, and closing gyms, pools, and clubhouses. Also, if there are any gas lines or propane tanks on site, don’t forget to turn them off and secure them.

Build an Emergency Kit: This can include first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, water, and whatever else you may need. Also consider purchasing a generator should the power go out.

Back up Data: Back up all computers and consider having data stored at a secondary location.

Damage Restoration: Put together a vendor list and arrange for cleanup before the storm. Board members should let owners know if they will enter units to inspect for damage. Many residents will have evacuated and may not return right away. Management should have a set of keys to gain access during an emergency. In the event of damaged property, insurance will require an inspection. Beryl Engineering & Inspection offers independent storm damage assessment for HOAs and COAs.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA)forecast for the 2023 hurricane season is around 13 named storms. So whether you’ve been hit hard by a hurricane or haven’t had a single encounter, remember, it just takes one to make it a busy and dangerous season.