Disaster Planning Checklist for Community Association Managers

Disaster Planning Checklist for Community Association Managers

Let’s Face It, Disaster Planning Is a Necessity


There is always a possibility that a hurricane, earthquake, fire, tornado, snowstorm or human-related disaster can strike at any time, without warning.

Every association could be affected by at least one of these disasters, but many aren’t prepared for when a disaster actually does strike.

It is imperative for Community Association Managers to be prepared for a multitude of consequences ranging from residents being displaced, buildings and structures needing repairs, or complete demolition and depletion of reserve funds.

Unlike government and businesses who typically have comprehensive plans to respond to and mitigate disasters of varying degrees, Community Associations rarely have a formal plan in place. In fact, there isn’t any legislation in place requiring community associations to develop disaster plans.

Why Disaster Planning is Important


Chances are your HOA members have an expectation that their Association will respond to disasters proactively in the aftermath of a disaster or emergency.

It is important for community association managers to be guided by their association governing documents as it relates to the expenditure of HOA dollars. It is also advised to check with your association’s legal counsel to determine if there are recommended guidance on state rules and regulations as it relates to your reserve fund.

Disaster Planning Checklist for Community Association Managers


The primary thing to consider is if the association’s financial information, contracts and other important data is easily accessible.

Storing this, and other critical data, using a cloud-based software allows for all relevant parties to access this data at any time to ensure business continuity.

1. Back up data to a cloud computing-based platform like TOPS [ONE]. Paper files and even external drives are easily damaged leading to information loss and hardware failure. Storing everything in a cloud environment is the smart thing to do when it comes to the business side of natural disaster preparedness. Cloud services ensure that data can be easily recovered and help you return to business-as-usual efficiently.

2. Establish a written plan and share it with all HOA members. Upload it to your cloud-based software or data center for access in the event of a disaster. The plan should include individual responsibilities, the evacuation plan, the return to duty and recovery time objective, and a plan in case the board needs to hold an emergency meeting.

3. Update current lists of residents, staff, and service providers, including names and contact information. Save the data in your HOA software and print out copies, too, in case the internet and power go out.

4. Secure a copy of the HOA’s governing documents, a certified copy of insurance policies, vendor contracts, and banking information in a waterproof container. You should already have all of this stored in the cloud too.

5. Capture and save date-stamped pictures and videos of all assets and property belonging to the HOA. Take a photographic inventory of community spaces, offices, equipment, pool areas, signs, landscaping, etc.

6. Verify the proper insurance is in place. If any amenities are new since your renewal, ensure they are included in the documentation. Most insurance carriers will not add coverage during disaster mitigation.

7. Pre-negotiate your vendor contracts with those who will assist in the clean up after a disaster, and ensure you understand the service level agreements. Remember to get everything reviewed by your lawyer before signing!

8. Help your residents to prepare by sending out a map of their evacuation route and a comprehensive list of the items they need to have in a safety kit. Here’s a list of some of the staple items they’ll need:

  • Social security card
  • Passport and ID
  • Candles and lighters
  • Flashlights
  • Water and non-perishable food
  • Prescriptions
  • Cash and credit cards

9. For those associations in an area affected by hurricane season, gather the tools and supplies required to board up and secure windows. Purchase plywood or another covering that can sustain high winds. Cut the plywood down and label it for each window or glass door before a hurricane.

10. Write any letters you’ll send out to residents after a disaster occurs. TOPS [ONE] has pre-written messages that can be customized to communicate with homeowners easily.

Final Preparations Your Community Association Manager Must Make for Disaster Preparedness


It is important to review the checklist and written plan with all board members so that they understand the protocol and their responsibilities.

Be prepared! Natural and human-related disasters are unpredictable and extremely stressful. Invest in a cloud-based service like TOPS [ONE] to manage your HOA, and you’ll have one less worry knowing that your digital files will be safe regardless of the circumstance.

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