Storms happen—especially during the summer and early fall months. Weather isn’t something that can be controlled and severe weather can happen in any area of the country. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information (NOAA), so far the 2019 summer is trending to be the 20th warmest on record since 1894. Extreme temperatures often make for more brutal storms or droughts. How do you prepare to face an increase in this type of weather despite its unpredictability? We are breaking down two of the most common types of severe weather to hit in the United States and how you can help limit damage and the quantities of repairs after the storm—especially in peak hurricane season.
Floods can happen anywhere there is rain and even where there isn’t—from Alaska to Florida and everywhere in between, floods are a possibility. Water surges can be triggered by rain runoff and natural disasters, but pipe bursts or someone leaving a sink running can be equally as damaging.
The aftermath of a flood/severe weather often involves submitting insurance claims, finding contractors, repairing damaged utilities, and possibly relocating tenants—it’s a lot of work. And flooding can cause damage far beyond the surface of your property, with many of the expensive repairs taking place in your units. Here are a few tips to help “flood-proof” your properties through particular renovations, as well as some precautions to take if flooding has already begun:
- Install foundation vents or a sump pump.
- Apply coatings and sealants to walls, windows, and doorways.
- Install check valves in the pipes of your property.
- Use sandbags to block gaps.
- Shut off your electricity at the breaker panel, in case flood waters reach your electrical system.
- If you have flooding that’s caused by a utilities failure, turn off the water supply line immediately.
- Photograph any flooding in order to document and defend your claim with your flood insurance provider.
Hurricanes and tropical storms
With hurricane season spanning May to November, it’s time to ensure your property is ready to weather storms that may come your way. Although most hurricanes and tropical storms affect states lining the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Ocean, many more states receive intense wind and rain from hurricanes, reaching far into the Midwest and upwards into Canada. Eight of the costliest hurricanes on record have occurred since 2004, thanks to an increase in storm severity and an increase in populations along coastal areas.
Fortunately, hurricanes and tropical storms often come with a significant warning period before reaching land, so there’s time to get things in order before a potential evacuation. Boarding up windows, clearing outdoor spaces of potential flying debris, and having an evacuation plan in place for your properties are all essential. When you are armed with storm data, you can determine how much time you have and what damage you need to be preparing for.
If you are in an area prone to severe storms, creating a plan for your properties before the emergency hits is a must. To avoid confusion, specific staff members should be assigned specific tasks. The plan should outline timelines for site preparation, safety protocols, methods, and locations for securing equipment and materials, as well as a process for a safe return.
How do you prevent and control damage from severe weather?
One of the best ways to prevent damage is through communication to staff and residents. Severe weather conditions can sometimes threaten your tenants and their ability to remain in their units. When it comes to any possible hazards, giving information in an accurate and timely manner makes all the difference. Having up-to-date contact information for your tenants can be vital in the case of a power outage or a flood warning. For example, if a resident depends on electricity to run medical equipment in their unit, it’s critical for you or any other members of your staff to know and record that information ahead of time.
If storm damage does occur at your property, having pictures and documentation of what your facilities looked like and how everything functioned beforehand is crucial for your insurance company and contractors to have. Keep a regularly updated album of photos of every part of your property and properly document everything—buildings, parking and storage spaces, maintenance equipment, common areas—long before an emergency takes place.
Experts also recommend taking the following steps when it comes to minimizing your properties’ vulnerability to extreme weather:
- Relocate or protect any equipment that shouldn’t be exposed to water.
- Provide floodwater entry and exit points.
- Use water and wind-resistant building materials below the design flood elevation (DFE).
- Seal all cracks and openings in exterior walls.
- Install backwater control plugs in floor drains and permanently seal floor drains that are no longer in use. Before anticipated flooding, sandbag the floor drains.
- Obtain waterproof covers for vents and louvers located under the DFE and install them before an anticipated flood.
- Permanently replace first-floor doors with sealed-gasket flood doors and install removable floodgates over entryways.
- If you have an elevator on the premises, keep electronic controls above the DFE in the rooftop machine room (for conventional-traction elevators), or in a mechanical closet adjacent to the elevator shaft on an upper floor (for MRL traction elevators).
- Ensure that all equipment located on the roof and attached the building is properly anchored.
- Regularly inspect outdoor fixtures for signs of rust and corrosion.
Limiting the damage costs
You know that freak accidents happen, and while there are ways to reduce damage, you can’t eliminate all possibility of risk. Getting flood insurance is one of the best ways to help deal with damage from floods, hurricanes, and tropical storms. Overall, paying attention to weather forecasts, putting plans in place, and preparing in a timely manner may help reduce severe damage or costs that may come. Being in regular communication with your tenants is another prudent step toward ensuring your community stays strong and prepared against any storm that may come your way.
Renters Legal Liability, LLC (RLL) is a Rent Manager integrated provider that can help you get the coverage your property needs. RLL offers solutions for apartments, single-family rentals, student housing, senior housing, HOA/condominium associations, co-ops, and short-term vacation rentals.