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Disaster Plans

Creating a Plan

Every community association needs a written disaster plan, which involves maintaining vi­tal, up-to-date information in a permanent-and fire and waterproof- file. This will be critically important during and immediately following a ca­tastrophic event. 

The actual file may be a simple notebook kept in a safe and readily accessible place, along with a duplicate for backup in another equally safe loca­tion off site. Ideally, a web-based electronic mas­ter file will ensure accessibility to the information anywhere, any time by anyone with the password. Also, web-based document storage eliminates the need to update multiple paper versions, which makes updating data regularly easier. 


In the event of an emergency, there are a few key items every association should keep in their disaster master file: 

  • Disaster plans are, of course, the primary items in the file. Be sure to include the plans estab­lished for each type of peril: hurricane, flood, fire and so on. 

  • Emergency contact information, including business, home and cell phone numbers for all directors, managers, staff, contractors, insurance agents and adjusters and various professionals who may be needed in an emergency.

  • Physical asset inventories, including documen­tation of brand, model, serial number, installa­tion date and photos of all pumps, motors, asso­ciation-owned or insured appliances, recreation­al equipment and furniture and clubhouse or lobby inventory. This will become especially useful after a disaster when the association must list, describe and justify compensation for losses. Physical inventories will expedite insur­ance claims and repairs. 

  • As-built schematics of buildings, including utility distribution lines (water, gas, electric and cable); utility cutoffs, valves and switches; and sanitation and storm drain systems.

  • Emergency procedures for securing physical assets and equipment in case of a catastrophe.

  • Disaster-related documents sent to residents, ­policy statements, emergency preparedness in­structions, insurance provisions and other perti­nent information should be kept in the master file. During a crisis, residents may not have access to their own copies of these important documents. Therefore, the association may need to redistribute this information or give residents access to an online version.

  •  Expert disaster information that has been published about common types of disasters. For ex­ample, fires in high-rise structures have been carefully analyzed and studied and specific re­ports are available on topics like fire prevention and evacuation systems. Emergency prepared­ness information is available- most of it free­ from local civil defense agencies. The web also contains extensive information that associations may want to include in a master file.


Association leaders and managers can't pre­vent natural disasters, but they can plan and doc­ument their preparations in ways that will minim­ize the damage and the time and cost to recover.

* This information is taken from CAI Press 2.pdf

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