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This year, be prepared for hurricane season

Do you know Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, and Elsa? We hope you won’t be making their acquaintance any time soon – because they’re the names of the first five hurricanes in 2021. Hurricane season officially kicked off on June 1, and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, although not at the historic levels experienced in 2020 when there were 30 named storms.

“Now is the time for communities along the coastline, as well as inland, to get prepared for the dangers that hurricanes can bring,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in announcing NOAA’s prediction.

Thanks to satellite imagery, the National Weather Service is able to track hurricanes for a number of days, which translates into ample time for preventive measures to be taken. Because hurricane watches are upgraded to hurricane warnings when a hurricane is expected to strike within 24 hours, real estate managers have a minimum of one day’s notice to make last-minute preparations.

You’re one step ahead if you already have an emergency procedures manual in place for your company and your properties. If not, you can get started by following suggestions found in the IREM Emergency Response Playbook,  which addresses emergencies of all kinds.

In focusing specifically on hurricanes, a number of measures can be implemented to mitigate property loss and prepare tenants for what’s to come, according to IREM’s go-to resource on emergency preparedness, Before and After Disaster Strikes:

  • Identify, in advance, locally designated public shelters in the community.
  • Closely monitor the television, radio, or NOAA Weather Radio to keep abreast of storms progressing in the area. They will direct you to areas of public shelter. It may also be advisable to check with local broadcaster’s Facebook, Twitter, or other social media outlets for immediate announcements and changes on areas of public shelter and storm conditions.
  • Learn safe routes heading inland. If possible, provide maps or a list of viable evacuation routes to residents and tenants.
  • Review the need for, and working condition of, emergency supplies and equipment such as plywood and nails for safeguarding windows, flashlights, and battery-powered radios.
  • Clear out clogged rain gutters and downspouts; secure loose gutters and downspouts.
  • Seek out and secure outdoor furniture or objects that might blow away or cause property damage, including trash cans and dumpsters, signs, and trash.
  • Inspect roofs—repair loose gutters, shingles, and coping; remove tools and loose objects.
  • Inspect roof-mounted HVAC equipment for loose debris and improperly fastened panels; make needed repairs.
  • Inspect storm sewers and catch basins; clear away debris.
  • Close and protect windows and glass doors—board up windows, install storm shutters, and apply masking or electrical tape in an X pattern on both sides of the glass.
  • If near a coastline, stream, or river, shut off gas and electricity.
  • Instruct residents to move all patio and balcony items (pots, plants, etc.) indoors. Remove these items from balconies of residents who are not at home.
  • Keep a supply of fresh bottled water on hand in case the storm contaminates the community’s water supply or damages distribution lines.
  • Evacuate low-lying areas and any other areas when so directed.
  • Shut down all three-phase electrical service prior to the hurricane striking.
  • Move elevators to the second floor level and lock them off in the event of flooding. Secure elevator doors at lower levels to prevent entry into the shaft.

If a hurricane does come ashore, the management company’s emergency procedures manual should guide both the emergency management team and the building’s occupants on what to do, should they be unable to evacuate the area. Here are some suggestions:

  • Stay current with the latest updates of the storm’s status from television and radio broadcasters, or via online news sources.
  • Inspect and secure mobile home tie-downs.
  • Turn off the gas and electricity.
  • Follow evacuation instructions of local officials. Hurricane winds are especially strong at higher elevations, so occupants of high-rise buildings should waste no time in evacuating.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, even if they are covered. Take refuge in a small interior room or hallway, where structural support is strongest.
  • Remain indoors—go to designated shelters or basement areas.
  • Don’t be fooled by the eye of the hurricane if it passes over you. If it is directly overhead, there will be a lull in the wind lasting several minutes to half an hour or more, and then strong winds and weather will recur.
  • Be alert for tornadoes, which can happen during a hurricane or after it passes.
  • Avoid using the phone except for serious emergencies. Text messages and online communication (where possible) will likely be the most reliable form of communication during a period of emergency as the cellular network may become overwhelmed.
  • Advise occupants of multiple-story buildings that are located away from the water to go to the first or second floors and take refuge in halls or interior rooms, away from windows.
  • Wear a hard hat, if possible.

Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s over after the hurricane passes through. The emergency management team should exercise the utmost care in ensuring the safety of building occupants, and the property. Some suggestions:

  • Listen to public broadcast announcements. Wait until an area is declared safe before re-entering an evacuated building.
  • Care for injured persons.
  • Be extremely careful in moving around the property. Watch for electrical wires (which may be live), shattered glass, splintered wood, and debris as well as structural damage.
  • Inspect the property, and appoint cleanup crews.
  • Call the property’s insurance company, restoration contractor, and building inspector, and get them to the site as soon as possible.
  • Set up a manageable schedule to repair the property. Be aware of symptoms of stress and fatigue.
  • Have materials available for making temporary repairs, such as tools, hardware, plywood, sawhorses, and barricades.
  • Do not turn on the electricity unless it has been officially declared safe to do so by the utility company.
  • Report broken gas, sewer, or water mains to the respective utilities.
  • Open clogged pipes and catch basins.
  • Prepare for possible flooding from the storm or damaged water barriers.
  • Be alert for potential fire hazards such as leaking gas lines, pools of water near electrical equipment and appliances, spills of combustible materials, etc.
  • If occupants are permitted by local authorities to evacuate after the hurricane, advise them of safe evacuation routes and roads. Drive only when necessary, as flooding may continue, and roads may weaken and collapse.

We can’t prevent hurricanes, but there are steps property managers can take to help minimize the damage, and keep their communities safe.


Hello Nancye! Your comprehensive guide on preparing for hurricane season is incredibly valuable, especially considering the increasing frequency of severe storms. The detailed breakdown of preventive measures and steps to take during and after a hurricane is both practical and informative. The introduction, highlighting the names of the first hurricanes in 2021, immediately grabs attention and sets the tone for the urgency of preparedness. It's great that you emphasize NOAA's prediction and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo's call for communities to be ready for potential dangers. The inclusion of specific names like Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, and Elsa adds a personal touch, making the information more relatable. Your mention of the above-normal hurricane season forecast, albeit not as extreme as 2020, serves as a necessary reminder for readers to stay vigilant. Best Regards, Joe E. Eells Castle Impact Windows


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