It’s June 1st on the east coast of the northern hemisphere. What does that mean? Welcome to hurricane season 2013. For some, hurricane season is just a weather event to be endured by coastal residents from Texas around the Gulf of Mexico, up the coast of Florida along to Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. But what we found last year is those north of the Carolinas are not immune from Mother Nature’s fury.
Here are some preparation tips for condo owners living along or near the coast. Making real and executable plans now will allow you to make better decisions when and if the time comes.
IF YOU LIVE AT YOUR RESIDENCE FULL TIME
1. If you live on the water, simply plan on leaving. Make arrangements now for where you will go, not when mandatory evacuations are ordered.
2. Plan on leaving early to avoid being stranded on roadways. Fill up your gas tank and get cash, pack your bag along with needed medications for your travels. You can read my evacuation story at the end of the list.
3. Bring in patio furniture, chairs and chaise lounges. Also bring in any hanging plants, grills or anything else that could become a projectile in high winds.
4. Pack a cooler with snacks and drinks.
5. Have a carrier or leash for pets.
IF YOU ARE AN OFF SITE, OUT OF STATE OWNER
1. Have someone available that can remove your patio furniture and secure your unit as much as possible. Bear in mind, the people available that can provide this service will have other out of state owners calling to provide this service.
2. DO NOT assume that your service provider will board up your windows. Things move pretty fast when a hurricane is coming and the service providers will also have to secure their own personal property as well. If you already have hurricane shutters, chances are high that your shutters will be put down anyway. If you do not have hurricane shutters, your condominium association might have standards in place for attaching boards to common walls including not allowing any nails or screws in exterior walls. Become familiar with your association’s standards for boarding up windows.
3. If your condominium is in a rental program,your rental agency will, most likely, have already started preparations.
4. Prepare for lack of communication in the hours leading up to landfall. Phone lines and cell towers become jammed and sending and receiving phone calls becomes hit and miss. Unfortunately, in situations like this it becomes necessary to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
During my years as a condominium manager I actually had to evacuate once. It was 1999 and Hurricane Floyd stretched 650 miles from top to bottom. Emergency planners and weather forecasters could not make a definitive decision on land fall. The result was the evacuation of millions of east coast Florida residents flooding the interstate system. Interstate 95 in Florida and Georgia turned in to a parking lot in a matter of hours as well as Interstate 10. Gas stations ran out of gas and hotels filled up. What normally took an hour to travel took five and six hours. If someone managed to leave early enough to avoid the coastal highway traffic still ran into problems in Macon and other middle Georgia towns. The six hour ride to Atlanta took 12 and 13 hours. Churches along the coastal highways, interstate and secondary roads, opened up their churches to house evacuees. The moral is plan for the possibility and make your decision to leave early.