In this week’s podcast of Community Association Matters we had the honor of interviewing Edgar Estrada and Natalie French of the City of Doral and discussed with them the different steps that residents, associations, and businesses must take to prepare for a hurricane. Edgar is the Assistant Code Compliance Director for the City of Doral and Natalie is the Media & Emergency Management Specialist for the City of Doral Police Department.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 thru November 30th. Many of us know that there are 5 hurricane categories but not many know how these categories are determined. According to Miami-Dade County’s hurricane readiness guide the categories are broken down as follows:
Category 1: sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph
Category 2: sustained winds of 96 to 110 mph
Category 3: sustained winds of 111 to 129 mph
Category 4: sustained winds of 130 to 156 mph
Category 5: sustained winds of 157 mph or higher
It is important to note that according to Natalie, most of the damage is not caused by wind, it is caused by storm surge and flooding. Other causes of injuries in a hurricane are live wires and medical emergencies, such as heart attacks caused by the increased stress level caused by disasters.
Some of the steps that condominium and homeowner associations should take are as follows:
Trim the trees in the community. Edgar recommends that associations hire an arborist to determine the proper amount of foliage to be trimmed and where. By trimming the trees early the association can prevent a tree from becoming “top heavy” and falling down. It also prevents dead or lose branches from becoming lose and a projectile.
Associations should also note that most municipalities do not maintain or clean the drains located in private communities. That role often times falls on associations. Condominium and homeowner associations should clean the drains in their community regularly. The City of Doral requires that drains be cleaned annually. Natalie suggests that associations check with their local municipalities because some municipalities offer debris removal after a hurricane even in private communities. The City of Doral offers this service but communities are required to sign an agreement with the city to implement this service in their community.
Check your shutters and ensure that you have all of the screws and panels needed to properly secure the property. If you do not have hurricane shutters or panels, Miami-Dade County’s hurricane readiness guide recommends that you use 5/8” plywood to cover windows and doors.
Remove all furniture and lose debris around the community. This includes pool and patio furniture, arm gate posts, and potted plants. If you do not have room in your community for temporarily storing these items, Natalie recommends that the association rent a storage unit for a few days.
Individuals should have enough supplies (food, water, medicine, and personal care items) for three (3) days. Remember to buy plenty of batteries, a radio that is battery operated, and manual equipment, such as a manual can opener. If you are going to a shelter, it is important to check the county website for information as to what you can and cannot bring. Not all shelters allow pets, so it is important to plan accordingly.
After a hurricane, Edgar urges board members and residents to be careful when hiring a contractor after a storm. Many unlicensed contractors come by communities and come to affected areas to take advantage of the situation. He added that most repairs require city and/or county permits despite the fact that it is an emergency repair caused by a hurricane. In addition, many contractors increase their prices dramatically during a hurricane. This is illegal and you should report price gauging to the proper authorities.