Planning Ahead to Avert Catastrophe from Natural Disaster

Planning Ahead to Avert Catastrophe from Natural Disaster


With the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy still fresh on our minds, you might be wondering what you might do to avert catastrophe the moment when the phone rings to notify you that your world has been turned upside-down.

The potential threats caused by natural hazards, such as hurricanes, wildfires, floods, winter storms, landslides, or earthquakes, happen more often than most people think. While a disaster occurring at your particular site may seem like a low probability, it is possible, and the impact on your site, staff, and residents can be tremendous. If your site is not prepared, there is little chance that you will be able to successfully manage through it.

While some events can happen without warning, such as an earthquake, others like tropical or winter storms are more “trackable.” Reaching out to residents is critical during a disaster event. To ease the burden, prepare emergency message recordings and communications ahead of time so they can be quickly invoked. Make sure that all staff members know how to program office phones to forward to another number, and how to change messages on the office voicemail system on short notice. Use recorded greetings to inform residents of important developments and updates, and be sure to set up a voice mailbox with adequate space for overflow calls from staff, residents, and relatives.

Time is critical when a storm is approaching. Your disaster plan should include templates for notices and memos that can be easily populated with information. Click here for an example of an Emergency Storm Preparation Notice.

And consider establishing an onsite support resource for emergency situations. Create a physical or virtual resource for residents who need assistance during emergencies, such as disabled or elderly residents. It also may be necessary to assign staff members to check on these residents to make sure that their units are secure, they have been removed from danger, or they are provided with the appropriate assistance, should they need to evacuate the property.