September is National Preparedness month, and the theme is Take Control in 1,2,3. The campaign focuses on how communities can prepare for disasters while dealing with a growing multitude of extreme weather events and emergencies.
The national campaign under the Federal Emergency Management Agency emphasizes preparation activities for older adults who live alone, are low-income, or have a disability.
Community managers and boards have access to the new web resources available in English and Spanish at Ready.gov/older-adults and Ready.gov/es/adultos-mayores. For more information on disaster planning for residents with disabilities visit Ready.gov/disability or Ready.gov/es/discapacidad.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS FOR COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS
The Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR) published a Best Practices Report on Natural Disasters with an emphasis on disaster planning and preparedness for community associations. Every community should have a disaster plan. This best practices report will get you started.
According to FEMA, natural disasters and severe weather have caused immense damage to communities across the U.S. this year. Wildfires in California and Maui, hurricanes in California, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, blizzards in the Northeast and tornadoes and floods in the Midwest have caused considerable damage and upheaval in many communities.
Cleanup and rebuilding will be the primary focus for community associations affected by these disasters. There are steps community managers and boards should take now to increase the possibility of receiving assistance from FEMA for debris removal immediately following a presidentially declared emergency.
DEBRIS REMOVAL FROM PRIVATE COMMUNITIES
If your community owns its roads, they are considered private. FEMA has specific requirements for removing debris from private roads. Debris must be removed by your local municipality; FEMA will not reimburse the community association for debris removal.
If your community association did not submit a right of entry indemnification form prior to the natural disaster, follow these steps before hiring a contractor to remove debris:
- Contact your local municipality as soon as possible and provide it with an example of a resolution the locality may pass to meet the legal obligation of removing debris. Complete a right of entry indemnification form, which FEMA requires for reimbursements.
- Wait for your locality to remove debris since only localities can be reimbursed by FEMA. The community association will not be reimbursed by FEMA for debris removal.
- Hire a private contactor only if you are denied assistance by FEMA.
Debris removal costs can be a financial burden for a community association. CAI believes all community association residents have the right to benefit from federal disaster response, recovery, and mitigation resources as taxpayers. CAI continues to advocate for closer coordination between community associations and FEMA to ensure community association interests are reflected in the design of federal disaster mitigation grants.
ADVOCATE FOR THE DISASTER ASSISTANCE FAIRNESS ACT
Indicating the importance of disaster preparedness, bipartisan legislation has been reintroduced in Congress. H.R. 3777, the Disaster Assistance Fairness Act expands access to FEMA disaster assistance to community associations.
Reps. David Rouzer (R-N.C.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) are leading the legislation. Under current law, FEMA inconsistently interprets regulations preventing community associations from qualifying for federal disaster response and recovery programs. H.R. 3777 will ensure housing cooperatives, condominiums, and homeowners associations are eligible for the same FEMA assistance available to other homeowners.