A discussion of routine & complex issues which confront all types of shared ownership communities.

Condo and HOA Law Blog By Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq.

Condo and HOA Law Blog By Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq.
This blog covers every topic under the sun related to condominiums, cooperatives, HOAs, timeshares and mobile home communities from the unique perspective of attorney Donna DiMaggio Berger.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Good night, Irene, now what does the rest of Hurricane Season look like for Floridians?

Many of us vigilantly monitored Hurricane Irene’s march of destruction up the US Eastern Coast, hoping that our neighbors to the north would take the threat seriously and heed the warnings. Irene fortunately missed Florida but it was a Category 2 storm as it passed us by.

Just how seriously did your board and your residents take this storm? Did it prompt a board meeting to discuss, perhaps update and begin implementing the community’s disaster preparedness plan? Does your community even have a disaster preparedness plan?

While we certainly were the beneficiaries of Irene’s jogging off course, now is not the time to let our guards down as there is still all of September, October and November left until Florida is out of the 2012 season.

Taking the last 100 years’ average, Sept. 10th is the average peak of the hurricane season. We are not even at the peak of our hurricane season as of this date, let alone the end of it.

Unfortunately for us, Florida nets four out of the 10 areas of the U.S. mainland that are most vulnerable to hurricanes according to the International Hurricane Research Center at Florida International University in Miami. See:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs
Does your community’s resident meteorologist think there’s no reason for concern or “unnecessary preparation”? Here’s a good piece on how unpredictable hurricanes and hurricane seasons are:
http://www.talkgwinnett.net.
What does all this mean for you and your community? If you serve on a board of directors in the State of Florida you have a duty to take hurricane preparedness and disaster recovery seriously. Unlike other real property owners who don’t live within a community association and can thus make their own decisions about when and how to prepare and how to seek maximum recovery for any storm damage, community association members are wholly dependent on their elected representatives to make the best choices on their behalf when it comes to the common property. A SW Florida board was recently sued by owners claiming that the board mishandled their Hurricane Wilma claim, costing the owners millions of dollars. Other boards could be vulnerable to actions should they fail to properly prepare the community for a storm for which warnings have been issued.

If you serve on a community association board in hurricane-prone Florida, you must make disaster preparedness a priority.

If you live in a community and do not serve on the board, ask yourself when was the last time you heard any mention of a disaster preparedness plan for your community. If you can’t recall, ask your neighbors and then ask your board. The potential for catastrophic loss in a community is far too great to leave your welfare to chance.

I am often asked what questions I would suggest for new purchasers in a community association today. Among the more obvious questions about the budget, delinquencies and reserves, I always suggest asking if the community has a disaster preparedness and recovery plan. If no such plan exists and your question isn’t met with a curiosity and genuine desire to implement one, my suggestion would be to buy elsewhere.

To take a look at a Hurricane Guide prepared specifically with the needs and constraints of community associations in mind, please go to www.kgbhurricaneguide.com.

This work by Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Generic License.


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