Emergency Response During Natural Disasters

Apartment Emergency Response
Apartment Emergency Response Photo Credit Houston KPRC

Multifamily office, warehouse, and other commercial property managers should have an emergency response plan ready in case natural disaster strikes. Apartments, buildings, and facilities can face hurricanes, flooding, winter storms, fires, and other unfavorable conditions. The National Apartment Association (NAA) has published a series of documents that can help residential properties prepare for natural disasters.

One NAA member gives her list of ’10 Things to Do When Dealing with a Hurricane.’ Jeanne Cambra is a Community Director of Regatta Apartment Homes in Houston, Texas. Houston recently experienced mass devastation after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in late August, 2017.

Five Things to Consider in an Emergency Response Plan

1) Take Disaster  Forecasts Seriously

Weather forecasts are increasingly accurate. Hurricane, flooding, high wind, tornado, and tsunami warning should be taken seriously to properly execute an emergency response plan.

Houstonions initially planned to ride out Hurricane Ike in 2008 because Katrina and Rita missed Houston in 2005.  Residents immediately changed their minds when they saw the September 10 TV video footage of what was happening in Galveston, Texas. Galveston is a Gulf Coast city that is about 50 miles south of Houston.

Regatta Apartment Homes posted an evacuation notice September 11 at 7:00 a.m., two days before the eye of the hurricane made landfall. The evacuation notice urged residents to leave the multifamily apartment by noon. Many of the residents left the 490 unit-residential community.

2) Give Staff, Tenants, and Residents an Emergency Preparation Plan

Cambra said their team distributed pamphlets that explained the necessary precautions residents should take to prepare for a hurricane. The most crucial request was for residents to clean out their refrigerators. If the power goes out, the abundance of food spoils and needs to be thrown away. This action led to the most labor-intensive chore the staff had to do during hurricane recovery.

3) Keep Staff, Tenants, and Residents Informed

The community maintenance director stayed at the multifamily apartment during the storm. He knocked on every door to see which residents had stayed. As part of the apartment emergency response plan, the apartment community regularly updated answering machines with important details. They also posted updated information on the website, including when it would be safe to return.

4) Stress Teamwork and Be Compassionate

Teamwork and a sense of community are usually not included in an apartment emergency response plan, but they should be. Cambra said that residents should be prepared to get to know their neighbors much better in a time of crisis. People can try to empathize with victims when they see video footage of their conditions, but it’s completely different from experiencing it firsthand.

5) Take Advantage of Live Security Cameras and Monitoring

Your emergency response plan should capitalize on existing technology and services.  The same remote surveillance technology and live video monitoring that helps protect your commercial property during normal evenings and weekends  can be invaluable during disasters and emergencies.

During Hurricane Harvey Stealth Monitoring provided live updates to customers about their multifamily apartments, dealerships, offices, and warehouses. Property owners and managers had peace of mind that their valuable sites were still being watched and were able to start disaster recovery plans immediately.

Stealth Monitoring and UCIT Online are the leader in live video surveillance in the U.S. and Canada with over 400 employees, 9 offices, and 3 live video monitoring control centers. Stealth remote video monitoring watches over 16,000 security cameras and can detect and deter crime at multifamily apartments, shopping centers, office buildings, warehouses, auto dealerships, construction sites and other types of commercial businesses. Our virtual security guard service can reduce or even replace security guards at a fraction of the cost. A remote surveillance operator can see unusual activity and property damage, activate a speaker warning, and call the local police.

Please call toll-free (866) 382-3873 or contact Stealth today for more information on emergency response. Visit Stealth’s web site to see actual videos of criminals being arrested at a range of commercial real estate properties.


Photo credit: Click 2 Houston – KPRC Channel 2




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