Condo Media - July 2020 - 14

Asked & Answered

Community Preparedness
Developing a Disaster Plan

Our community doesn't have a disaster plan
and, given our experience with the pandemic,
we've decided we should develop one. We have
a general idea of what we need, but can you
give us some specific suggestions for what the
plan should cover?

The first point: You can't possibly anticipate every
possible emergency you might encounter. The
pandemic is a good illustration of that. The second,
equally important, point: That shouldn't prevent you
from developing a plan to guide you through the crises
you are most likely to experience. The best place to
start is with advice we've collected from crisis management experts. It's not the comprehensive, detailed
plan associations need, but it does provide an outline
that will help your board develop one of your own:

1

Create an evacuation plan. The first priority in
any disaster is to prevent injuries. You get people out
safely first and then worry about the property. The plan
should identify emergency exits and evacuation routes,
specify where owners are to meet if they are forced to
leave their units and where they should gather if everyone must leave the site. Your plan should also identify
any residents with special needs who would require
special assistance if the buildings are evacuated.

2

Designate emergency coordinators for the
community. These are the people who will take the
lead in a disaster, assuming responsibility for calling first
responders (police, fire, ambulance), providing information and instructions to residents, contacting vendors
needed to deal with the emergency, reporting the loss to
the insurance company, and coordinating the repairs.

3

Outline a communications plan. This should
specify who calls whom, include emergency contact
information for all residents, and anticipate that phones,
cell phones, and computers may not be working, or may
be unaccessible for some period of time. You want to
make sure that owners can contact the association's communications coordinator and that the coordinator knows
how to contact owners as well. Plan to use all the com-

14

CONDOMEDIA July 2020

munications resources available to you - your website,
email, telecommunications, and social media - to convey
essential information to owners during an emergency
and keep them informed and connected after it is over.

4

Establish a reliable vendor list. Emergency
coordinators need to know what companies will
respond immediately to the association's request for
immediate assistance.

5

Review contact information for owners and
vendors periodically to keep it current. Again,
being able to reach all the people you need to reach
quickly and efficiently is essential.

6

Protect vital association records. You should
store back-up records (paper records and computer data) off-site.

7

Create a file of essential information you would
want to have at hand immediately in an emergency - emergency contact information, current
resident list, insurance policies, etc. Store those
documents in a safe, readily accessible location where
someone can grab them quickly, if necessary.

8

Distribute copies of the plan - or relevant parts of
it (such as the evacuation procedures) to owners.
Everyone needs to know the evacuation routes and procedures, and you can't have too many people who know
where to find the community's water shut-off valves.

9

Review your disaster plan periodically. Update
and revise it as needed. You may never have to use
the plan, but if you do, you want to make sure that: a)
You have one; b) It is current; and c) You know where
to find it.



Condo Media - July 2020

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