Units - December 2012 - (Page 50)
What We Learned
• Make sure your communication network is well defined, and ensure that you have redundancy in that communication. Cell towers can go dark or have reduced signal just like any other technology. When that happens, mobile phones and email do not work very well. Texting seemed to, and it became my lifeblood for 10 days. Make sure you know your options. • There are people who will take advantage of you. Because for them, pardon the pun, disasters can bring a windfall. So, pre-approve a disaster recovery contract with a nearby service provider so that you have one if you need it. Hopefully, you never will. But at least you’ll have one written in stone. • Be compassionate. Your employees and your residents are at wit’s end. You need to be the voice of reason and care. It’s not about property management, it’s about humankind. If you manage that way, people will respond that way. • Don’t ever lose your sense of humanity. People count on you: understand their conundrum and show them how you and they can prevail—even if you don’t believe it yourself. • Realize the proverbial “stuff happens.” It isn’t going away, work it, think it and solve it. • Anticipate ancillary damage. Freezing pipes, compromised gas lines and lack of any vital resources. Be better than the captain of the obvious. • Use your friends in our NAA network. That is one reason why association membership is valuable. I had an informative conversation with NAA-member professionals from New Orleans. Their wisdom guided me. New Orleans AE Tammy Esponge and her group had developed emergency “best practices” based on what happened during Hurricane Katrina. It was great. But even better—and most comforting— was to be able to hear from her the progression of events and how they sounded very similar. She was able to help me see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.” And that can really help. • Understand the psychological impact that this will have on your staff members. They have been dealing with all of your residents’ problems and their own. You reach a breaking point. I know I did. I have to assume all your people did, too. Folks, it’s not all about business. First and foremost, it’s about human beings. You have to adjust your decision-making to comprehend and understand that it’s for both your residents and your employees. I cannot begin to tell you everything you should do; I am not sure I figured it out myself. In the end, we learned that most of us are vulnerable. Collective thought prevails. You have a lot of very good people on your staff who can adapt and think. Realize how fortunate you are to be part of that very special group. Hug your friends, your loves and your best work associates. They truly could be gone tomorrow. We often watch what happens in the world as if it’s a video game. The next disaster that strikes could happen to you. And when it does, it will dramatically change how you view your responsibilities and your perspective. Mike Beirne is Executive VP of Kamson Corporation, in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Kamson operates approximately 90 communities and more than 15,000 units, throughout New Jersey and the Northeast.
w w w. n a a h q . o r g
A resident uses her cell phone in the darkened hallway of her mother's apartment building in Hoboken, N.J.
Tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, blizzards: the worstcase scenario does happen—and never so as starkly as in this most current event. What you go through first as problemsolvers is the enormity of the event. Where do you start? And once you start, what are some really important things you learn? How can you infuse them into your business plan? We thought we were smart and had portable generators everywhere, ready to go. But are they useful when you cannot get gas? 50 UNITS
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Units - December 2012
Units - December 2012
A World of Difference
A Cottage Industry
Superstorm Sandy: What Happens When Disaster Hits Home?
Don't Get Caught With Your Screen Down
It Pays to Play
A Way to Protect Low-Income Housing Tax Credits
From Dog Bites to Water Damage
After 30 Years, She Found That 'Dream' Job
The NAA Network
Units - December 2012