Preparing for the Worst Weathering Storms and Natural Disasters

Chicagoans pride themselves on the ability to withstand bitter winters but sometimes Mother Nature just does get the better of us. For proof, just look at the pictures from this past January of abandoned cars along Lake Shore Drive and it is eerily reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic world. The massive blanket of snow paralyzed the region but the after-effects of the blizzard wreaked havoc on buildings throughout Chicagoland. Once again, many buildings were unprepared for Jack Frost's wrath, and the lack of preparation caused a lot of chaos. So how does one prepare for the worst?

Jim Stoller, the president of The Building Group, a building management company in Chicago, believes that preparation is key, “I'm a former Boy Scout, and our motto was 'be prepared.' An association must have a plan in place, it doesn’t matter what the emergency is—blizzard, fire, electrical outage, blackout, plumbing, you have to have a plan in place for everything,” he says. “Nobody wants to think about any of these emergency situations and their aftermath, but it’s better to talk about it and know what you’re going to do before an emergency—without a plan, people panic, and that can make things worse.”

The Most Common Emergencies

The most common emergencies are severe weather, blackouts, gas leaks, sickness, and fire, but you should plan for anything such as bedbugs or even the pandemic flu. Believe it or not, planning for a natural disaster such as a hurricane is actually a little easier because such events provide at least a little warning.

“We are constantly checking weather reports,” says Stoller, “This past winter we were completely prepared for the blizzards. Our employees knew what they were supposed to do and we had the tools and resources available so the weather did not effect our unit owners badly at all,” he said.

“The management company and the Board of Directors should work together to prepare a flexible disaster management plan for their community,” advises Gina Rossi, the manager of marketing and sales for Associa, a company specializing in community association management headquartered in Chicago. “The best prevention is to know your environment, the risks of the area, and then prepare for the worst.” Rossi adds, “Associations that are prepared can reduce the inconvenience, losses and fears that encompass disasters.”

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