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After Disaster Strikes


While a comprehensive emergency and disaster plan reduces the threat of emergencies, there’s only so much you can do ahead of time. Once a disaster strikes, it is critical to reduce further risk through control and mitigation of recovery operations. Here are some steps that you, as a real estate manager, can take to keep things running smoothly throughout the recovery process:

  • Focus on the safety and health of employees, tenants, residents, and service providers:
    • Assess property for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage
    • Contact disaster contractor and/or secure additional resources as needed
    • Make any temporary repairs to protect the property from further damage or people from additional injuries
    • Recognize that staff and other service providers may be affected by the disaster as well
    • Implement business continuity strategies for recovery and resumption of normal business operations (e.g., backup operations site, data recovery, and so forth)
  • Use Facebook and Twitter to communicate with employees, tenants, and residents. Twitter is an effective tool for real time communication because of its SMS/text abilities in the event of disrupted internet and phone service.
  • Depending on the emergency or disaster, provide resources and tips to residents or tenants. For example:
    • Share checklists for flood safety, hurricanes, power outages, and more at www.redcross.org or direct them to resources such as www.ready.gov
    • Post tips such as food safety guidelines during a power outage or reminders to use flashlights instead of candles for safety
    • Offer extra supplies of flashlights, batteries, bottled water, and so forth
  • Keep battery-powered radio available to listen to emergency updates and news reports
  • When dealing with the media, direct inquiries to a designated spokesperson, address questions with candor, and cover the following:
    • Describe nature of disaster/situation
    • Express empathy and concern for employees, tenants, residents, and visitors
    • Describe what company is doing to mitigate impact
  • Call your insurance company. Check your policy for requirements about reporting a loss. Some policies have time limits to file claims. Work with your representative on next steps (e.g., claims adjuster inspection, signed Proof of Loss form, and so forth).
  • Complete initial incident report that captures the period immediately before and after the loss:
    • Describe the scene and activities in as much detail as possible
    • Take photographs or video to provide visual records
    • List injuries, deaths, interactions with first responders, and actions taken by staff
  • Create a log to track expenses including cash, purchase orders, credit card charges, and contracts
  • Log the contractors you have requested to respond and identify the scope of their work
  • Capture the following in a daily log:
    • Records of safety meetings on site
    • List of contractors on site each day and the work completed
    • Meetings with local government representatives including police, fire, building code officials, and so forth
    • Proposed work plan for each day
    • Tenant needs and wants; document your communication with them
    • Interactions with the media
  • Continue written and photographic record from inception through the completion of the emergency or mitigation services
  • Review and update emergency plan

 

Additional Resources