Rebuilding Property After a HurricaneSince 2000, approximately 20 hurricanes and tropical storms have struck the New York City area. The recovery and rebuilding period after one of these storms can take many months – or even years. 
That was the case with powerful Superstorm Sandy, which devastated much of the New York City metropolitan area in 2012 and caused record storm surges and flooding in Manhattan, Queens and other parts of the city. 
Sandy’s devastation affected approximately 200 buildings and communities managed by FirstService Residential, New York City’s leading property management company. Within just a few days, the company created a $10 million emergency Hurricane Recovery Fund to help residents and properties recover and return to normal, even before their insurance payments were finalized. (link to Philanthropy page:
In the aftermath of a powerful hurricane or tropical storm, a quality property management company can facilitate your building’s repairs and help residents start returning to their day-to-day activities, as seen with FirstService Residential’s efforts after Superstorm Sandy. By sharing best practices and providing the support of an experienced team of management professionals, the right company can help mitigate, repair and reverse the impacts and damage of even a severe storm. 
After the storm has passed, the first consideration is the safety of your building’s residents. Once that has been established, it’s time to work toward returning to a normal way of life. Here are some of the steps the best property management company will take to help you get there.

1. Establish communication.

After a storm hits, confusion and disorganization often follow. Essential services are likely operating sporadically, or are even down completely. That’s why a communication plan is critical. A capable and knowledgeable property management company will have already implemented a resident alert system before the storm hits. Afterwards, paper notices and site visits are important and effective ways to communicate with residents. Once services have been re-established, email blasts, updated website content and other digital communications can be added to ensure a consistent dialogue. 

2. Manage necessary insurance claims.

Insurance is a critical part of recovery – and it’s often the most daunting task for board members. Your property management company can lead the process from beginning to end, including initial notifications to preparing records to coordinating with the claims adjustor. (Remember, after a devastating storm strikes the New York City area, adjustors will have a large backlog of work). By serving as the point of contact for all relevant parties, your property management company will facilitate the claims process and help you to obtain a favorable settlement. In addition, your management company will also compile and review all estimates and complete all necessary steps before work can begin in your building.

3. Perform emergency actions.

Prompt and efficient disaster mitigation is critical. A quality property management company will assess the extent of damage in and around your building as soon as it’s possible to do so safely. It will also arrange for immediate mitigation by hiring contractors to pump excess water, clean hazards and remove debris. Property management team members should also be present at your building to ensure all work is performed in a timely manner and all efforts are efficient and coordinated. 

4. Offer a centralized team to help. 

The post-storm period can be confusing and overwhelming, and it’s not uncommon to find duplication of efforts and inefficiencies. It may even be possible that different teams are working towards the same goal, without realizing it, while other necessary tasks are not performed at all. What’s needed is a coordinated, centralized effort, which a good property management company can provide. Its experienced team will know how to create a command center that serves as the central hub for all efforts. They may also implement the use of shareable tools such as Google Docs to facilitate efficiency and collaboration. 

5. Rebuild and recover. 

Getting back to normal involves a great deal of effort – and that can feel overwhelming. However, your property management company can support you during rebuilding and recovery by taking charge and making sure project managers, contractors and other service providers are delivering what they promised. Your property management team will help secure financing if needed, as well as procure bids from reputable companies and negotiate costs. They can also help your building prepare for construction by developing schedules, communicating with residents and documenting damage by taking “before” photos. 
A good property management company is skilled at maximizing results provided by service providers, and this is a time when that capability will be most valuable. During the rebuilding, your property management team will be on-site to immediately address issues, communicate progress with the board, and manage all of the details. After each project is complete, your property management company will review all warranties, document results with “after” photos, ensure payments have been made by the insurance company, and oversee all final sign-offs required to make the building habitable. 
While hurricanes and tropical storms are not everyday occurrences in New York City, it’s critical that you have a trusted and knowledgeable management partner on your side when they do strike. A great property management company will provide an immediate and efficient response, followed by capable and skilled management of the rebuilding process from start to finish. For more information about how a property management company can help you rebuild and recover post-hurricane, contact FirstService Residential, North America’s leading residential property management company. 
To receive more information on how a professional property management company can help your condo or co-op, contact FirstService Residential.

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Tuesday August 23, 2016