Owners and operators of nonprofit supportive housing, like group homes and care facilities, undertake a commendable responsibility providing care, social services and shelter for vulnerable individuals. The job can require facility managers to be jacks of all trades. But one thing owners and operators cannot forget as they continue to navigate the everyday challenges of running a supportive facility is the importance of preparing the facility for hurricane season and other major storms as we enter late summer.
The 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season is underway, with three storms already named. Just one year ago, Hurricane Ida and the subsequent hurricane season caused $70 billion in storm damages and more than 100 deaths across the country.
This year, researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have predicted an above average hurricane season. Along with the threat of heavy winds, major hurricanes can also cause stormwater runoff, leading to significant flooding, property damage, water contamination and more.
How Nonprofit Groups and Care Facilities Can Prepare for Major Storms
An above average storm season poses a threat to all businesses, including nonprofit supportive housing facilities. Here are four recommendations for care facility and group home leaders to take to keep their clients and staff safe from major storms:
1. Maintain the roof
During a hurricane, the roof is one of the most exposed and at-risks areas of the building. Regular inspections and making repairs as needed to a roof by a licensed contractor throughout the year can help limit any potential damage during a hurricane.
2. Create a disaster safety plan
A comprehensive disaster safety plan can be essential during a hurricane. This safety plan should include an evacuation route, a list of emergency supplies to keep on hand, shelter locations in the area, best practices for securing the property in advance of any storm, and how to best respond and clean up in the aftermath. You should also prepare a resident evacuation checklist that includes key details such as medications, assistive devices (glasses, hearing aides, etc.) and identification.
3. Prepare for stormwater runoff
Implementing basic measures such as a rain garden, downspouts and dry wells can keep stormwater levels at an acceptable level and prevent major damage to the property.
4. Clean and take inventory
Have team members walk through the facility and its surrounding area to clear outdoor furniture or unfastened items on the lawn and seal any openings from the outside to the facility. This includes vents or outdoor outlets. Take inventory as well so you can report losses quickly to your insurer in the aftermath.
5. Keep an eye on the forecast
Even with the best risk mitigation practices in place, if your operation is caught off guard by a storm, your staff and clients will be at major risk. Have staff members keep a close watch on the weather forecast and act immediately on hearing a severe weather warning.
In addition to these steps, consider scheduling a talk with your risk management partners at Lamb Insurance before a storm. They can review what you are covered for in the event of a hurricane, assess your limits and survey your property to confirm there aren’t any additional risk exposures. By partnering with a specialist, owners and operators can better understand their risk exposures and take steps to mitigate that risk to keep the nonprofit in the business focused on serving others, rather than on repairs or rebuilding after a storm.