As the victims of Hurricane Harvey pick up the pieces, we at Think Realty hope you, our readers, your family, friends and pets are safe. As evident by several impactful hurricanes over the past two decades, TR wants to share some tips and advice from our sister company Affinity Loss Prevention Services (ALPS). We spoke to BreAnn Stephenson, assistant vice president at ALPS this morning. She shared these valuable tips on how to move forward.
After the Storm
You or your property manager should visit any affected property/properties as soon as safely possible in order to take photographs of the damages. Please note that the majority of insurance policies require you to mitigate any further damage by taking all reasonable precautions to ensure the security of your property. Any mitigation expenses you incur for a covered loss are typically considered part of your claim. Such steps include water extraction, roof tarping and securing of the property.
Also, beware of opportunists who may try to take advantage of those in need of emergency repairs.
Stephenson also stated in an email from today that, “The most important thing for people in the area to do is to listen to their local authorities and follow their instructions. For example, I know that some have been advised to “shelter in place” even though their homes may be flooded. In that particular case, the authorities advised that the risk of going outside the home was greater than staying inside in “safe” flood waters… so, they really know how to best advise for each specific area.
“Investors should stay in contact with their property managers and/or tenants during the event if possible. Obviously to make sure everyone is ok, but also so they can stay abreast of what is occurring at their property (if possible). “Communication may be difficult and it may be impossible to get to their property for a while even after the storm has moved through, but they do need to make their way there as soon as SAFELY possible. Some damage may be so catastrophic there’s nothing that can be done, but if the property has moderate or minimal damage and can be secured to prevent further damage, they should do so.”
As experts have indicated we will likely see an above average number of hurricanes this year, here are items to think about and encourage your tenants to take part in, as preparation before the next hurricane, the remainder of the hurricane season (June 1 – November 30 for Atlantic, May 15 – November 30 for Eastern Pacific).
Before the Storm
Priority #1 – Make sure you, your tenants and your families are safe. Follow the instructions given by local authorities regarding evacuation or other emergency procedures.
Remind tenants to create a “go bag” – A “go bag” is typically a smaller, easily portable bag containing a change of clothes, prescription medications, food and water, flashlights, a portable radio, batteries and cell phone chargers, to name a few key items. They should also have an evacuation plan, emergency communication procedures and a rendezvous point in case their group gets separated.
Quick tips to protect your property – At a minimum, we would advise taking the following precautions:
- Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep your tenants and your property safe.
- Retrofit to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including garage doors.
- Make sure rain gutters and exterior drains are free of debris to avoid potential water back-ups.
- Move indoors any exterior furniture or art that could act as a dangerous projectile.
- Be sure the battery backup for your sump pump is working to prevent drain backups.
- A backup generator can be helpful in the event of extended power loss, but never operate a generator indoors. Be sure the exhaust is well-vented and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
- If you have staged a property with valuable items, such as rugs or art, move them away from windows and to upper floors if possible.
During the Storm
- If officials say it’s ok to “shelter in place,” advise tenants to close and lock all windows and doors, shutting any storm shutters. Garage doors should also be braced.
- If you or your tenants have evacuated the area, STAY PUT. Do NOT go back to the affected area until local authorities advise it is safe to return.
- Stay informed by listening to or watching local broadcasts or by using the FEMA Mobile App. Hurricane Safety tips from FEMA can be found at: https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.
- FEMA resources for Hurricane Harvey can be found here: Hurricane Harvey FEMA Resources.
Planning ahead, and ensuring your tenants know what to do in any catastrophe is a must for property owners. Be proactive to safeguard your tenants and your properties.