The 2017 hurricane season brought new challenges to the facility management industry. As a certified restorer and national responder, I found myself traveling
to not only client locations, but to other areas that were greatly affected by the storm. I also learned that preparedness is a spectrum and 2017 really
showed me the extremes from both sides of preparedness.
It was two weeks after the storm when a gentleman in a branded company vehicle flagged me down in a parking lot. His company manages over 30k apartments in the across the country.
“Hey- can I rent some dehumidifiers and air movers from you?”
I kindly explained that we are not an equipment rental company and that we typically manage the project from demo, dry down, and decontamination at a minimum. His response to me really blew my mind.
“I know how restoration contractors work. Our contractor has no more resources so I am stuck with 8 properties that have 4 feet of water or more in them. I’ve hired some demo crews and we are cutting everything out and spraying it with bleach. I will only need the equipment for 3 days maybe 4 at the most. I plan on hanging sheetrock next week.” I was really taken aback. Water that has been sitting in the structure for an extended period of time will not dry out in 3 days.
In contrast, I had had multiple conversations with a comparable apartment management company prior to Hurricane Harvey. We had unit counts and a response protocol in place including an email chain with about 20 people on it to report property conditions should a disaster occur.
The best tips I can give for formulating your own preparedness plan are as follows.
- -Have a primary restoration contractor and have a backup plan.
- -Know how high a priority you are with each contractor that is on call.
- -Assemble your team and define communication procedures.
- -Assemble the players of your team prior to the storm (industrial hygienist, accounting consultant, building consultants, insurance adjuster, representatives to speak on behalf of the company, a security company.)
- -Communicate your goals and needs to your team and restoration contractions prior to the storm. Do you have a very high deductible that will likely never be met? Does your management company have approval to authorize work for you? Do you need to reopen immediately? Has your restoration contractor surveyed your property?
To find the right contractors, here are a few things to consider:
- -Does your contractor employ enough response personnel and own enough equipment and vehicles to cover the majority of your properties?
- -Does your contractor have the vendors and partners in place to be able to assist?
- -What is your contractors plan for a large catastrophic event?
- -Does your contractor have the financial means to take on a large volume of work on short notice?
The difference between being prepared and unprepared really shows exponentially in times like the 2017 hurricane season. Historically, we know to expect other catastrophic weather events.