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July 18, 2017
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Molly Blake

Hurricane Season is Here: Prep and Cleanup

Big questions as the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season ramps up. The National Hurricane Center reported four tropical storms already, and while none made it to hurricane status, they're saying it's going to be a busy season. That means the possibility of disaster and disaster recovery. It's why South Carolina, Rep. Mark Sanford is taking action now.

On July 13, Congressman Sanford introduced H.R. 3238, the Disaster Assistance Equity Act, a bipartisan bill that would make common interest communities, like condo complexes and neighborhoods governed by an HOA, eligible for the same FEMA assistance available to other homeowners. The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY). 

Currently, existing FEMA policy excludes community association roads from receiving federal assistance for debris cleanup. This bill would make two changes to the Stafford Act:

1. Make homeowners associations eligible for the Public Assistance Program for debris clearance and repair of common infrastructure; and

2. Enable condominium associations and housing cooperatives to be eligible for the Individual Assistance Program.

"I find it strange that FEMA treats the 70 million Americans who live in common interest communities differently than it does those who live in other types of communities," said Congressman Sanford. "In my experience, storms don't discriminate between different kinds of communities. As such, it seems to me that FEMA should treat them all equally when it comes to the assistance available in the wake of a disaster." 

This would obviously be a boon for neighborhoods should they face Mother Nature's wrath this season. In the meantime, it's important to help your community members prep. Don't forget, you'll likely have newbie residents who moved to Florida from Ohio and haven't lived through a hurricane.

  1. What's your city emergency alert system like? If it's not great, make sure your ready to send out texts, email, or phone blasts to your residents if there's an evacuation or weather alert.
  2. Power goes out. How the heck do you get your gate open to let people in or out? Figure it out, document it and share it.
  3. Do you have elderly folks in your HOA? Ask a young person to 'adopt' them to keep a close eye on them during heavy rains or winds, and help prepare their home. (See tip #5) It's also a great way to connect people who may not have known one another.
  4. Let folks know where they can go for window boards, sand bags, and other supplies to prep their home.
  5. Schedule a Hurricane Preparedness Weekend and encourage everyone to trim or remove damaged trees, clear out, and secure rain gutters.

Here are some more helpful tips as you prepare: https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes 

I'm always interested to hear the hurricane names when they're announced. Isn't that always awkward when it's your name, though?

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