The official hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin (the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico) is from 1 June to 30 November. The peak of the season is from mid-August to late October. Unfortunately if you live on the Emerald Coast, five months out of the year we live in fear of hurricanes. Newspapers and the media are full of preparedness stories and those of us who have been here awhile and experienced the devastation of a hurricane think we have a grip on what to do. But are we as prepared as we should be?
A professional property manager’s worst fear is a hurricane. Our business recently reviewed our hurricane preparedness procedures as we head into the season. My wife is a Fort Walton Beach native and we have been in the residential management business for over 38 years going through many hurricanes, but we still learn something new each time we look at our policies or share information with fellow property managers.
The first order of business should be to prepare a list of supplies, procedures, and family contact information. Supplies such as food, water, batteries, medications, etc. should be purchased and stored prior to hurricane season. Your procedure list, such as boarding windows, filling up the car with gas, turning off utilities, etc. will vary depending on the expected intensity and landfall of the storm. However, with the uncertainty of hurricanes, waiting until the last minute to see what is going to happen is never a good idea. Always have a plan with family members, where to meet, how to communicate, designate someone out of the coastal area to be a central contact or destination point in case of evacuation. Plan what will be done with pets.
Owners of rental property, or property managers, should let tenants know what is expected of them in the event of a hurricane. If the owner provides hurricane shutters the tenant should be advised how to put them up. Tenants should understand that an owner’s insurance coverage does not in any way cover their possessions. Get your rental insurance coverage in order now. Once a storm has formed and is named, insurance companies will stop writing new policies. If your policy is up for renewal send the renewal information and payment back immediately.
It is also a very good idea in prepping for hurricane season to video your home and create a detailed list of your valuables, back up your computer files, and put documents such as wills, deeds, passports, etc. in seal-able plastic bags. If you evacuate the area, take these items with you. They are hard to replace and the video makes insurance claims much easier.
One other often overlooked aspect of hurricane preparedness is too have items on hand to assist you in protecting your home if a hurricane does damage your home. Items such as tarps or plastic, extra shingles, gas-powered chain saws and generators, wet-vacs, etc. will be hard to find after a storm moves through and should be on hand prior to hurricane season.
We all hope we are spared a hurricane’s visit, but making a list and checking to make sure everything has been taken care of beforehand helps prevent panic as a storm bears down. I wish everyone a safe and uneventful hurricane season. For additional information on hurricane preparedness, visit:www.nhc.noaa.gov
J. Matthew Scheel
Owner | Broker
Sundance Rental Management