With each year that goes by, extreme weather events become more frequent and costly,1 and boosting the importance of storm preparedness for homeowner and community associations. When storms arrive bringing property flooding, wind-driven roof problems, or other related damage, associations and property managers must be ready to offer temporary relief for residents and repairs for their property.
Extreme weather damages property and puts lives at risk, but it can also add financial stress to an association by disrupting cash flows and adding unexpected costs for damage control, homeowner support, and emergency repairs. Understanding the financial risks from a major storm, while planning your response when the storm hits, keeps you prepared for whatever weather event comes your way.
Financial stability in unstable weather
Storm preparedness starts by protecting your association from the financial risks that a major storm poses—you don’t want to be short of financial resources when you really need them to respond to an emergency in your community.
A storm recovery reserve fund is the long-term savings component of financial preparation that can be funded from the association’s annual budget. Aim to save enough in this special storm reserve to cover deductibles and a significant portion of costs for damages that fall outside of the association’s insurance coverage. These “rainy day” funds can help you meet the extra expenses that go with a serious storm situation without overtaxing your budget or leaving you searching for funds.
Proper insurance coverage helps to lessen the financial risk that could arise from a serious storm event. Choose a trusted insurance partner who can help you select the coverages you need to address your association’s risks and then be there for you and your community through the storms and cleanup.
Setting up a line of credit with your bank provides you with ready access to cash to help you meet emergency spending needs and secure contractors if disaster strikes. Talk to your Truist Association Services relationship manager about the line of credit that might be right for your association.
Keeping homeowner payments on track takes on new importance after a storm, as homeowner payments may be slow to arrive with mail delays, power outages, or interruptions to internet service. A streamlined process for receiving homeowner payments with electronic payment options, like those available through Truist Association Services—can help you with continuity of operations during a storm and throughout its aftermath.
When the storm hits
You might not be able to anticipate all that will happen when a storm hits but create plans to cover your operations and communications during the event and its aftermath. Thorough storm preparedness can mean a smoother and faster cleanup process and return to normal for your association and homeowners.
Secure computers, sensitive data, and backup files. Cloud-based data storage can keep offices running and avoid suffering data loss from storm damage. Have working backups of all systems and files in at least one off-site location and use online document preservation strategies—like readily-available cloud storage—for all important papers and files.
Maintain communications with your team during the storm and recovery phases. Include multiple means of communication (phone, text, email, social media, etc.) and complete contact data for board members and managers, so that leaders can stay in touch even if some systems are unavailable.
Keep staff in the loop and prepared for action. Who handles specific tasks? What’s the first priority, and the second, and third? Where will work take place? Communicate with staff so they know what to do in an emergency and decide how you’ll reassign team members to assist in other functions if offices are closed.
Make sure your emergency plan includes contact info for the vendors and service providers your association relies on. They may be essential in the aftermath of the storm—for routine services as well as emergency needs like insurance, roofing, repairs, information technology, tree care, and more. Remember to include banking and insurance information on that list.
Consider granting emergency powers to selected leaders in the event of a disaster and decide on appropriate temporary privileges and responsibilities for individual board members. Your plan should clearly state who has authority to purchase necessary supplies and make agreements with vendors.
Be ready to support homeowners after the storm. Homeowners will be looking for information about storm damage to the community and will want to know your plans to repair damage or restore services. Have a website ready to go along with plans for how you will keep it updated. Use text, email, social media, etc., to get the word out when you need to. You might even prepare a recovery guide with resources and strategies and have it ready to distribute when needed.
Plan to deal with severe weather before it happens.
Talk to your Truist Association Services relationship manager about how you can prepare your association and its finances to weather the next major storm.