DISASTER PREPAREDNESS Getting Ready Now – A Builder’s Advice

08/01/2005

Most of the time we welcome out-of-town visitors to Florida with open arms, but when their names are Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, it's a whole different ballgame. Although it's been nearly a year, most of us in Florida will be feeling the effects of last fall's four hurricanes for quite some time. The personal tragedies were many, and the financial impact will be felt for years to come. As general contractors, and Florida's largest builder of vacation properties, we not only learned how to get ready for hurricanes, we learned how to recover from them. We also learned what advice to give our clients before the next hurricane hits our part of the world.

There are two areas of preparedness that I would advise you to consider. The first is the "hunker down" phase. This southern saying was used over and over again by our local media, almost to the point of annoyance. This phase occurs 24 to 48 hours prior to the arrival of the hurricane. The second phase is water intrusion maintenance, which should be a regular part of your annual maintenance process and will go a long way towards preventing damage to your buildings.

"Hunker Down" is the phrase, yet the more universal saying might be "Batten Down the Hatches." This phase has two parts, depending on your development. If you have ongoing construction activities, then it is extremely important for your contractor to remove all materials from roofs and balconies as well as tie down any material that could potentially become airborne. Your contractor should provide you with a written plan at the start of construction operations, along with emergency phone numbers of key personnel and major subcontractors. An example from our plan follows:

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• Disaster Preparedness by Jeff Forrest (PDF) | Download >

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