With more than 68 million Americans living homes governed by community associations, emergency planning has become an essential skill of HOA managers. Community managers play a key role in any emergency response effort. HOA managers must understand what types of disasters are likely to occur in their community, develop emergency response protocols, practice them and then communicate them. For that reason, HOA and condo boards must choose CMCAs to manage their communities.
Disasters range from summer wildfires to hurricanes, tornados to blizzards. Their impact on communities varies, depending on their size and location, the age of the housing stock and a community’s degree of preparedness.
According to the American Red Cross, writing a disaster preparedness plan has six steps:
- Committing to preparedness for the community or property. This means getting the HOA board and other top leadership committed to disaster planning.
- Conducting a hazard vulnerability assessment. George Sullivan, an expert in disaster preparedness for the American Red Cross says, “A lot of people write an emergency response plan based on something that happened to someone else.”
- Developing an emergency response plan. “If you already have one, now is the time to revisit it and ask all the big ‘what ifs,’ such as ‘what if we’re no longer able to operate in this location?” Sullivan says.
- Testing your plan. An untested plan is not a real plan – so go ahead and plan those drills.
- Communicating about preparedness. Managers must make preparedness top of mind in their communities, through newsletters and bill inserts.
- Helping others. By definition, a commitment to disaster preparedness is a commitment to helping others – so some communities consider adopting a local school or church or hosting a blood drive.
Share your planning tips and tricks in the comments section.