Pool drained by 2 feet… check
All recycle bins and loose items stored and secured… check
Clean storm drains… check
These were the basic precautions on our storm checklist before Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Coast.
We were lucky.
Thankfully, our Florida properties sustained relatively minor damage compared to others in the state, but Hurricane Irma served as a reminder of how devastating the damage could have been and helped us sharpen our hurricane preparedness procedures. Prior to the storm, property staff was busy making storm preparations and were efficiently running through checklists to ensure buildings were secure and ready for the coming storm. But what about our residents?
Our managing agent has a checklist for that too. As part of the hurricane preparation, the property staff went door-to-door to help residents remove items from patios and balconies and obtain sandbags for exterior front doors. Additionally, property managers reminded residents of precautions to practice during the storm (staying away from windows and doors), provided residents with a list of shelters in the areas, and alerted them of what to do if an emergency occurred during the storm.
Immediately after the storm passed, property staff knocked on every door to do a comprehensive check on all residents. This included a wellness check as well as a damage to the building and units.
The results? One of our properties was without water (and sewer) for almost a week, resulting in the need for on-site portable toilets. Cases of water and boxes of hot pizza were purchased and delivered to each unit by our staff, and the Red Cross also helped to provide a few hot meals for the residents.
Despite our properties sustaining only minor damage, many residents emerged from the storm in financial crisis. Some immediately began filing FEMA claims for lost wages, while others filed for emergency unemployment. NHT worked with local officials and FEMA to hold informational meetings with the residents, many of whom no longer had jobs due to the destruction in the Florida Keys. The storm may be over, but it’s impact is ongoing. Our resident service staff will continue to provide case management to the residents, including assistance with employment services such as updating resumes and searching for new jobs.
We learned a few lessons from Irma and are working on revised emergency plans to include items such as greater petty cash amounts, a rotating bottled water supply and generators to run common and maintenance areas.
Through it all, despite having their own families and property that needed to be attended to, our property teams worked hard to secure our property and help our residents. They are heroes and we are honored to know and work with such a dedicated group of people.
Thank you to all who have donated to the NHT Hurricane Relief fund. Our residents and their families are grateful for your kindness and support. But we’re not out of the woods yet. There is an unprecedented need for employment services such as resume updating and assisting with job searches among our Florida residents.
With your donation of $20, we can continue to provide residents with the support they need to find new jobs and financial stability.