Hurricane Season Is Here: Are You Ready?

The National Hurricane Center designates June 1st - November 30th as the official hurricane season across the Atlantic basin. The hurricane season sees on average 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. However, experts predict above-average activity this year, including 19 named storms, nine hurricanes, and four major hurricanes. 

If you’re thinking the risk is low in your area because it hasn’t experienced any major storms recently, we urge you to stay alert and prepared. Flash floods from storms and hurricanes can come unexpectedly - and fast. Just take a look at two harrowing flood stories below.

Ellicott City, MD Flash Flood

Diane MacEachern was happily celebrating her birthday with her family at a local restaurant. It had been raining 10 days straight, with the downpour running through the subdivisions and onto Main Street. Midway through their meal, her son looked through the window and saw the water levels in the nearby creek rising. He suggested evacuating, but it was too late - within 5 minutes, the water on the street surrounding the restaurant was 2 feet deep and continued raging. Not 10 minutes later, the water was 20 feet deep. 

Flood waters tore down trees, lampposts, broke down store fronts, windows, and began rushing into the restaurant, trapping Diane, her family, and other guests and staff inside. Thankfully, the rain let up and the flooding stopped with no casualties in the restaurant. However, the damage left behind for the community of Ellicott City was devastating.

Baton Rouge, LA Storm Floods

Flood waters were rising a foot per hour in James Harthoorn’s neighborhood after storms battered Baton Rouge. When flood water threatened his home, he evacuated his family - a 7 year old, 5 five year old, a 1 year old, 2 month old, and wife - to drier grounds. A truck came to transport the family to a nearby shelter. At first, the flood waters began to recede and they thought they were in the clear. But, to their surprise, flood updates in the middle of the night showed flood waters beginning to head their way. Some roads were impassable and others were trapped. Eventually, the family made it out safely. 

These stories highlight the unpredictability of flood waters and the importance of checking flood updates in your area regularly. And they are just 2 of the millions of flood stories in the U.S.

Protect your family and business with a flood preparedness plan

When flood waters are rising, it’s too late to create a plan. Unpreparedness often leads to panic. And when you’re in a state of panic, it’s tough to make sound and safe decisions to lead you and your family to safety. The primary goal of a flood preparedness plan is to protect the safety and wellbeing of property, residents, guests, and staff. With a plan, everyone’s responsibilities are clear.

It can give you peace of mind during an emergency and a higher chance of securing your property, important documents, and sentimental items. A flood preparedness plan can also help make post-flood recovery a smoother process.

At Flood Risk America, we have over 20 years of experience and are available 24/7 to answer your questions and concerns. We have an outstanding team of trained flood professionals, architects, engineers, and educators. We believe that education is important for both safety and effectiveness. Our trained professionals will simulate a mock deployment for you and your team and make sure that you and your staff are prepared for an emergency flooding situation.

Flood preparedness plan checklist

Creating a hurricane preparedness plan with Flood Risk America outlines responsibilities and duties that will save your property from flood and wind damage. Our plan can also reduce the physical and emotional distress experienced before, during, and after a major disaster.

During and after a disaster requires advanced planning and management skills most of us rarely use. Here are some great tips from VendorSmart on preparing for an emergency, gathered from local disaster preparedness organizations, HOA associations, and insurance providers.

Before the storm

  • Make plans: Create two plans - one for staff and one for residents. The staff plan should: 

  • Name who is responsible for what
  • Provide a checklist for securing the property
  • Set a timeline for taking action based on storm progress
  • List emergency contact information for insurance providers, vendors, and staff
  • Establish a protocol for communicating with residents

    The plan for residents should include: 

  • Recommendations for evacuation
  • Suggestions for protecting their property
  • A summary of preventative measures the HOA will be taking
  • A reminder of what type of damages are the responsibility of the HOA
  • A list of emergency management resources that may be helpful, such as shelters and disaster assistance information

  • Document assets: Take and date photographs of all common areas, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures and make a spreadsheet that lists model numbers or item types. Call your insurance company to ensure coverage of all assets in the event of wind, rain, flying debris, and flooding. Ensure there’s no exclusion for named storms. Make copies or scan all relevant insurance documents and keep them in a protected area offsite, or upload them to the cloud.

  • Speak with Vendors: Ask service providers about their plans before and after a hurricane, including what arrangements they have made to fuel and protect their service vehicles. Ensure the pool company expects a flooded pool, have the landscaping service turn off all irrigation systems and determine availability for tree trimming before the storm and tree removal afterward. If you have a retention pond on the property, work with your service provider to ensure optimal drainage.

  • Secure property: Remove and store any patio furniture, unsecured planters, tennis court windscreens and nets, awnings, large hanging light fixtures, and any other items that could become damaged or become flying debris. Pool furniture can safely be stored inside of the pool if you lack storage space, and stack sandbags in areas prone to flooding. Install hurricane shutters on common area buildings. If using plywood, have the sheets purchased, cut to size, and labeled before hurricane season.

After the storm

  • Assess the impact: It’s crucial to evaluate the damage as soon as it’s safe to do so. Note that carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution, and heat stress are among the significant hazards disaster recovery workers face in the immediate wake of a storm, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

Have the HOA board’s designated representative check community buildings and common areas before driving around the community to check the status of streets and sidewalks. Make detailed lists and take photographs for insurance purposes, and so that you can inform vendors about what damages require repair.

  • Inform residents: Keep the residents informed about damages, timeline, security measures, and progress. Also, share information about organizations that may help if they have needs outside of the HOA’s scope of responsibility; FEMA is one such resource, the Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance is another.

  • File insurance claim: If you need to file a claim, contact your insurance company as soon as possible, as claim settlement is typically on a first-completed, first-served basis. Meet the adjuster and provide all relevant information about damaged assets and necessary repairs. Plan to follow-up early and often. Consider assigning an assertive and detail-oriented team member the task of communicating with the insurance company. Remember that you don’t have to accept a settlement. Contact an attorney or a public adjuster in the event of a dispute.

  • Review plan: After restoring essential services and ensuring the safety of the community and employees, reevaluate your plan and determine how to improve it. Learn from your mistakes and shortcomings to be better prepared in the future.

Flood Risk America’s Pre-Emergency Preparedness Planning

Pre- Emergency Preparedness Planning is a full-service flood risk program launched by Flood Risk America (FRA). It offers flood prevention when the need for emergency preparedness is the most significant and immediate response is critical. This program ensures that our clients are prepared for an emergency BEFORE it happens. 

Our pre-emergency preparedness planning helps clients recover fast from emergency situations with our innovative tools and approaches along with a wide range of flood prevention products that can be deployed within hours to meet immediate flooding threats.

The benefit of working with Flood Risk America:

  • FEMA Compliant
  • FEMA approved maintenance plan
  • Deployment/Product Training 
  • Deployment Blueprints
  • Flood Operation Control Maintenance Plan  
  • Remain operational during and after a major flooding disaster
  • Eliminate your vulnerability to flooding loss
  • Lower flood deductibles and obtain better coverage limits
  • Reduce your flood insurance premium

Contact us today to get started on your pre-emergency preparedness planning and be ready for hurricane season.