Officials: Flooding won’t close Interstate 75

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By: Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida

Posted: Sep 14 2017 11:07AM EDT

– Hurricane Irma evacuees trying to return home can breathe a little easier. The Florida Department of Transportation said Thursday the state will not have to close a portion of Interstate 75 in Alachua County, as Santa Fe River flooding has started to recede.

“As of this morning, FDOT engineers and state meteorologists do not believe that the Santa Fe River will reach a level to make the interstate unsafe,” a news release from the Department of Transportation and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said.

State officials had warned Wednesday that they were watching a small bridge on Interstate 75 at the northern border of Alachua County because the Santa Fe River was expected to crest at “historic and unprecedented levels.”

If the interstate — heavily traveled even in normal times — would have been forced to close, it would have created a bottleneck for residents of South and Central Florida trying to return home after evacuating to northern parts of the state or to other states.

Also contributing to the potential problem was that parts of U.S. 27 and U.S. 41 in the area remain closed because of Santa Fe water levels.

The announcement Thursday about keeping the interstate open came as crews continued working to restore electricity across large swaths of the state and residents and businesses grappled with damage.

As of 9 a.m. Thursday, Duke Energy Florida said 569,853 customers — nearly a third of its customer base — lacked power, while electricity had been restored to 824,084 customers. Pinellas County had the largest number of Duke customers still out, 184,054, while Orange County had 97,178 out, according to the utility.

The Florida Municipal Electric Association also said 224,836 customers of municipal utilities remained without power and that electricity had been restored to about 600,000 customers. Duval County had the largest number of municipal customers without power, 79,398, while Orange County had 31,000.

Meanwhile, 85 percent of municipal-electric customers in Monroe County did not have power. Irma made initial landfall Sunday in the Florida Keys, part of Monroe County, before making landfall again in Southwest Florida.

Thousands of insurance claims from the storm also have started to be filed as homeowners and business owners see the damage inflicted by Irma.

Michael Peltier, a spokesman for Citizens Property Insurance Corp., said the state-backed insurer had received about 15,000 claims as of 8 p.m. Wednesday, with most coming from Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties. He said the insurer does not have initial estimates of losses.

State Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier late Wednesday issued an emergency order that carried out a series of directives by Gov. Rick Scott. Among other things, Scott directed a 90-day “freeze” on proposals that could lead to increased property-insurance rates.

That will push back until December a decision by the state Office of Insurance Regulation about whether to approve a pending rate proposal by Citizens. The proposed effective date of the rate changes, which would include increases for many Citizens customers, was Feb. 1.

Peltier said Citizens officials are looking at whether the 90-day delay in a decision about the rate filing could push back the effective date of changes.

The Florida Department of Transportation says it is actively working with WAZE, Google Maps, the Georgia Department of Transportation and other transportation industry partners to route evacuees most efficiently.  They say Floridians should consult www.FL511.com for up-to-date information on road closures and travel routes.

FEMA: How it works and how to reach them

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– FEMA is offering individual assistance to victims of Hurricane Irma in counties covered by the disaster declaration. However, that does not currently include all counties in our Tampa Bay viewing area that took some of the hardest hits from hurricane Irma.

This is because FEMA is still in the early phases of assessing damage, and has not completed the surveys in some counties that serve as a precursor to determining eligibility for individual assistance.

The zone has expanded as FEMA inspects the region, and may continue to expand.

Meanwhile, FEMA does not yet have mobile disaster recovery centers in place, but people who need help can reach out to FEMA online or by phone.

MORE: FEMA offers help to Irma victims in some counties

People can register for help through DisasterAssistance.Gov or through the FEMA App. People who do not have Internet access may call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). A disaster inspector will schedule a visit to properties in areas covered by the declaration. FEMA urges applicants to note whether the home is safe to enter.

“Please don’t wait for disaster recovery centers to open. Register for FEMA assistance now as soon as it is safe to do so,” said FEMA spokesman John Mills. “Damage assessments are ongoing, and additional counties based on those damage assessments may be added to the disaster declaration.”

LINK: FEMA’s disaster declaration for Florida
LINK: FEMA updates on the declaration and eligibility for individual assistance

Much of the damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma will be covered by private homeowner’s insurance or flood insurance. FEMA helps people who do not have insurance, or helps fill gaps for what insurance does not cover. It offers low-interest disaster loans, grants for home repairs, temporary housing support and other assistance depending on the extent of damage and circumstances.

“FEMA has been a great partner,” said Governor Rick Scott. “What the president gave us with the major declaration is going to help our families get back to a normal life as fast as possible.”

Irma Sliding North Of Hispanola; Hurricane Watches Now Up For South Florida

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At 11AM Thursday, Irma remains a dangerous category 5 hurricane with winds of 175 mph. It’s moving WNW at 16 mph and is located about 120 miles SE of Grand Turk Island in the Turks & Caicos. Irma is expected to continue this general WNW motion over the next couple of days before making a northward turn as it nears the state of Florida. Hurricane watches are now up for all of South Florida.

irma-4

The time of that right hand turn is critical in determining the range of impacts felt across the state. The worst of the weather will be felt on Irma’s northern and eastern sides. Areas directly in front of and east of the center of the storm can expect sustained hurricane force winds for a time. While winds on the western side of the eye will be decreasing the further west you go. It’s still too early to pinpoint the impacts for an exact location, as a shift in track of just 20-30 miles could dramatically change who sees what. As of now, the entire Florida peninsula is in the cone of uncertainty and should be preparing accordingly. Mandatory evacuations are now in effect for the Florida Keys, as well as coastal portions of Miami-Dade, Broward, Brevard, and Martin counties. Heed warnings of local authorities.

irma-5 irma-6

Impacts across the northern Caribbean over the next couple of days will be quite extreme. Here is the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center…

STORM SURGE:  The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded by rising waters moving inland from the shoreline.  The water is expected to reach the following HEIGHTS ABOVE GROUND if the peak surge occurs at the time of high tide…

Jupiter Inlet to Bonita Beach, including Florida Keys…5 to 10 ft

The deepest water will occur along the immediate coast in areas of onshore winds, where the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.  Surge related flooding depends on the relative timing of the surge and the tidal cycle, and can vary greatly over short distances.

The combination of a life-threatening storm surge and large breaking waves will raise water levels ABOVE NORMAL TIDE LEVELS by the following amounts within the hurricane warning area near and to the north of the center of Irma.  Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.

Turks and Caicos Islands…15 to 20 ft
Southeastern and central Bahamas…15 to 20 ft
Northwestern Bahamas…5 to 10 ft
Northern coast of the Dominican Republic…3 to 5 ft
Northern coast of Haiti and the Gulf of Gonave…1 to 3 ft
Northern coast of Cuba in the warning area…5 to 10 ft

Water levels around Puerto Rico should subside today.

WIND:  Hurricane conditions are expected to begin within the hurricane warning area in the Dominican Republic and Haiti today. Hurricane conditions are expected to begin in the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands later today with tropical storm conditions expected within the next several hours.  These conditions will spread into the central Bahamas by tonight or early Friday.

Hurricane and tropical storm conditions are possible within the watch area in Cuba by Friday.  Tropical storm conditions are expected to begin within the warning area in Cuba tonight. Hurricane conditions are expected in the northwestern Bahamas Friday night and Saturday.

RAINFALL: Irma is expected to produce the following rain accumulations through Saturday evening:

Northeast Puerto Rico and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands… additional 2 to 4 inches, isolated 6 inches
Much of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos…8 to 12 inches, isolated 20 inches
Andros Island and Bimini, Bahamas…12 to 16 inches, isolated 25 inches
Northern Dominican Republic and northern Haiti…4 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches
Southern Dominican Republic and southern Haiti…2 to 5 inches
Eastern and central Cuba…4 to 10 inches, isolated 15 inches
Southeast Florida and the upper Florida Keys…8 to 12 inches, isolated 20 inches
Lower Florida Keys…2 to 5 inches

In all areas this rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

SURF:  Swells generated by Irma are affecting the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the southeastern Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, and should start affecting portions of the southeast coast of the United States later today and tonight.  These swells are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for…
* Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach
* Florida Keys

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to the northern border with Haiti
* Haiti from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas
* Southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands
* Central Bahamas
* Northwestern Bahamas

A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* Jupiter Inlet southward around the Florida peninsula to Bonita Beach
* Florida Keys
* Lake Okeechobee
* Florida Bay
* Cuba from Matanzas province eastward to Guantanamo province

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Dominican Republic from south of Cabo Engano westward to the southern border with Haiti
* Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince
* Cuba provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas, Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Villa Clara.

 This entry was posted in Daily updates by Tyler Eliasen. Bookmark the permalink.

CA Managed Communities Rank #1 & #2 as Tampa Bay’s Best Neighborhoods and Top 25 Nationally – Tampa Bay Business Journal

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Ever wonder which neighborhoods are considered the best in the area? Pittsburgh-based Niche evaluates neighborhoods based on more than a dozen factors, including higher education rate, housing affordability and availability, diversity, commute time and many others.

Tampa neighborhoods dominated the top of Niche’s state ranking in 2017, accounting for the top eight neighborhoods in Florida and 19 of the top 25.

VIEW SLIDESHOW 26 photos

Easton Park in New Tampa was the highest-ranked neighborhood in the region. Easton Park, with a population of 2,367, ranked first in the state and 19th in the country. Harbour Island also made it to the top 25 nationally at No. 24.

The top 25 neighborhoods in Tampa Bay were almost exclusively located in Tampa, specifically in South Tampa and New Tampa. Only one St. Petersburg neighborhood, Bayou Highlands, made Niche’s top 25.

The top Tampa Bay neighborhoods are not necessarily the wealthiest. While the median household income for all 25 was above the local average, it ranges from just over $60,000 to nearly $150,000. Median home value likewise had a wide range, from $133,878 to $672,904.

View the photo gallery for data on the top 25 neighborhoods in the Tampa Bay area. You can also explore the interactive map below to see where these neighborhoods are located.

Chris Erickson is Research Director for the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/news/2017/06/08/see-the-top-25-neighborhoods-in-tampa-bay.html

The 2017 Fla. Legislature Returns To Condo Land

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June 1, 2017

Once again, after a one-year hiatus, the Florida Legislature has produced several condominium bills. Typically, the Legislature passes a single condominium bill into which other approved bills have been merged. This year, perhaps to make up for the failure to enact any condominium legislation, four bills were passed: CS/CS/CS/HB653 (HB653), CS/CS/HB1237 (HB1237), (CS/CS/CS SB398 (SB398), and CSSB1520 (SB1520) were passed by both houses of the Florida Legislature and are awaiting approval or disapproval by Governor Scott.

The HB653 and HB1237, as typical, run 69 and 51 pages respectively and deal with a potpourri of issues for Florida condominiums. SB398 deals only with estoppels and SB1520 deals only with condominium terminations which also appears verbatim in HB653. The principal changes are summarized below. HB653 and HB1237 share many of the same provisions and the references below to “both bills” are to these two bills.

Fire Sprinklers. There has been a long-running battle between older mid-rise and high-rise condominiums and the state and county fire marshals regarding installation of fire sprinkler systems. The fire marshals claim sprinkler installation is a life safety issue and will save lives while the older condominiums do not want to bear the substantial cost of installing new sprinklers. HB653 clarifies that an opt-out from fire sprinkler requirements is permitted with a two-thirds vote of the voting interests in buildings more than 75 feet high and that no requirement exists for fire sprinklers in existing buildings of 75 feet or less in height. It also moves the required outside date for sprinkler installation compliance from Jan. 1, 2020. to Jan. 1, 2022. However, if the building is three stories or more, this bill requires the installation of on-premises signage in a form approved by the state fire marshal warning of the lack of sprinklers in the common areas.

Condo Fraud. After a series of articles in the Miami Herald regarding improper elections, fraud and kick-backs by officers and directors of condominiums in Miami-Dade County, there has been a push to criminalize such improper conduct. Criminal penalties are imposed for forgery of election materials, embezzlement of condominium funds, destruction of condominium records and refusal to permit inspection of such records. Both bills specifically include “kickbacks” as prohibited conduct. Moreover, if an officer or director is charged with misconduct, such person is automatically removed from office and not subject to re-election unless he or she is ultimately cleared of the charges. Another way of describing this procedure is “guilty until proven innocent.” Criminalization had generally been opposed by the Condominium Bar on the theory that it is difficult to obtain volunteers to serve on the board of directors and the imposition of criminal penalties might make it impossible to fill a position which most people already think is a thankless one. Both bills also prohibit directors, managers and management company from acquiring condominium units in any proceedings to enforce the condominium association’s lien rights either at a foreclosure sale or by acquiring title by deed in lieu of foreclosure. The acquisition of title by one of the prohibited parties by deed in lieu is difficult to conceive unless accomplished in a two-step process in which title is first acquired from the association.

Access to Condominium Records. Currently only condominium owners have inspection rights over condominium documents. Both bills add to existing document inspection rights inspection by a designated representative of a unit owner and by a tenant. A tenant, however, has only limited authority to inspect and copy the association’s by-laws and rules. Both bills also provide that condominiums with 150 or more units will need to establish a website by July 1, 2018, to post the association’s governing documents: the declaration of condominium and articles, by-laws and rules of the association (together with all amendments), management and other agreements made by the association, budgets and financial reports, certifications supplied by directors regarding their familiarity with the Condominium Act. In lieu of other forms of providing notice of meeting, notices of meeting may be given by posting on the association’s website.

Financial Reporting. Both bills eliminate the exemption of smaller condominiums containing less than 50 units from providing financial statements of the type prepared by an independent accountant but allow a majority of voting interests in such condominiums to waive such financial statement requirements. HB653 eliminates the requirement that an association cannot waive the statutes’ financial reporting requirements for more than three consecutive years. Both bills add an enforcement mechanism for owners to obtain financial reports of the association by allowing an owner to report such failures to the Division of Florida Condominiums, Timeshares and Mobile Homes. If the association fails to deliver the statements to the division and the owners it is thereafter barred from electing out of reporting requirements for financial statements. While well intentioned, such enforcement mechanism appears rather toothless. In addition, HB1237 requires associations to provide an annual report to the division of the financial institutions in which the association maintains accounts. It is not clear the purpose of such requirement but such reports do allow owners access to such information.

Assessments. HB653 requires that notice of a board meeting at which regular or special assessments will be considered must state that assessments are on the agenda and include the estimated amount and purpose of such assessments. While current law requires that notice of special assessments appear on a meeting notice, the requirements for regular assessment and the amount and purpose of such assessments is new.

Board of Directors. HB1237 imposes term limits for serving on the board to four consecutive two-year terms unless the term limit is waived by at least two-thirds of the total voting interests or there are not enough eligible candidates to fill the board positions. Furthermore, this bill also eliminates board certification of a vote to recall board members. It therefore appears that a board member being recalled cannot dispute the recall prior to removal but would need to contest by petition to the division after recall and perhaps replacement and apparently at his or her own expense. Conflicts of Interest. HB1237 contains extensive provisions dealing with conflicts of interest. However, some of these provisions are inconsistent with each other. One provision prohibits contracts with service providers if such a provider has a financial relationship with a director or officer or someone related to the director by blood or marriage. However, another provision appears to permit such contracts if the conflict is disclosed, the director recuses himself or herself on the voting for such contract and the board approves the contract.

Estoppel Certificates. Existing law contains a provision for the issuance of estoppel (or status) certificates by the condominium association. SB398, however, greatly expands the scope of this provision. The bill allows requests to be made by electronic means (i.e., email) and requires the association to designate an email address for such requests. It also specifies the contents of the certificate to be produced by the association which includes the date of the certificate, name of owner, unit number, any owned parking spaces, the association’s attorney if payments are delinquent, the charge for the certificate, the name of the person requesting the certificate, the amount of the periodic assessment with a paid through date, the date the next installment is due, an itemized list of charges, a list of scheduled additional or special assessment not currently due, transfer fees, open violations by the existing owner, whether board approval is necessary for a transfer of the unit and, if so, if such approval has been provided, whether a right of first refusal exists and, if so, whether it has been exercised and contact information for other associations governing the unit and for the association’s insurance carriers. The bill indicates an estoppel certificate remains effective for 30 days from issuance or for 35 days if mailed. The bill limits the charges for an estoppel certificate to $250 but permits an additional charges of $150 if the owner is delinquent and $100 for expedited service within 3 business days. Otherwise the bill requires delivery within 10 business days and prohibits any charges by the association for certificates delivered beyond such period. In cases where certificates for multiple units owned by the same party are requested, there is a sliding scale per unit starting at $750 for up to 25 units increasing to $2,500 for more than 100 units. If someone other than the unit owner requests the certificate and the closing for which it was requested fails to occur, the association has to return the fee. The bill also contains an adjustment mechanism to increasing the amount of permissible fees every 5 years based on increases in the Consumer Price Index.

Terminations. Perhaps the most controversial area in HB653 is the changes to the provisions allowing condominium terminations. These provisions also appear as a freestanding bill in SB1520. Since changes in the termination statute in 2007 permitting optional terminations, several hundred condominiums have been terminated. Most of these were as a result of the Great Recession where many condominium conversions, from rental apartments to condominiums, were reverted by termination to rentals. Although the great majority of these terminations were without incident, and in many cases resulted in an improvement of the property, there were a few high profile and well publicized terminations in which the concept of termination became an anathema. In these cases, homeowners lost their homes and wound up with a bill from their lenders as a result of the deficiency between their proceeds from the termination and the amount of their mortgages. Both of these bills were intended to make terminations of condominiums much more difficult. There is no doubt that the legislature has succeeded in this goal. The bills lower the threshold of voting interests needed to defeat a termination plan from at least 10 percent to at least 5 percent. They also require division approval of a termination plan but lacks specifics on the division’s standards for such approval. The bills also increase the waiting period necessary to resubmit a plan of termination upon failure to adopt a prior plan from 18 months to 24 months. Furthermore, they increase the lockout period for a termination from 5 years after the declaration of condominium was filed to 10 years. The bills also provide that any owner of homestead property objecting to a successful termination must receive at least his or her purchase price regardless of party from whom the unit was purchased. Existing law only requires such 100 percent recovery if the unit was purchased from the developer. The bills also change the disclosure requirements contained in a plan of termination. The definition of “bulk owner” for which special disclosures are required is reduced from 50 percent of the units to 25 percent of the units thereby increasing the pool of parties needing to make such disclosures. A requirement is added that the termination plan disclose “factual circumstances” that indicate that the plan “supports the expressed public policies of this section.” This is an amorphous standard at best. It is not clear what “public policies” would be supported if 100 percent of the owners decided it would be advantageous to them personally to terminate their condominium. Finally, the bills attempt to make the changes to the statute retroactive to apply to all existing condominiums. Such a provision in the current termination statute has previously been challenged in several cases which uniformly held that termination provisions could not be given retroactive effect based on constitutional restraints.

Alternate Dispute Resolution. HB1237 imposes additional qualifications for people to serve as arbitrators. It requires at least five years of Florida Bar membership and at least mediation or arbitration of 10 disputes involving condominiums and 30 disputes overall within the three years immediately prior to the application for certification. Alternatively one may qualify if certified in real estate or condominium and planned development law. The bill also mandates that an arbitrator conduct a hearing on an appropriate dispute, as determined by the division, within 30 days after being assigned by the division and render a decision within 30 days after such hearing. These requirements represent in a widespread dissatisfaction with the current arbitration process.

Voting Rights. HB1237 modifies the ability of the association to suspend voting rights for nonpayment of monetary amounts by requiring at least a delinquency of $1,000 and a 30 day notice prior to suspension. It also denies a receiver of a unit the ability to exercise voting rights.

Bulk Purchases. Part VII of the Condominium Act was enacted in 2010 with a limited life of 2 years. Adopted during the Great Recession, its purpose was to shield bulk purchasers of condominium units from potential developer liability thereby encouraging absorption of unsold units. This legislation has been largely credited with reducing the absorption of inventory originally estimated at 5 to 10 years to 2 to 3 years. Part VII was extended by the legislature several times and currently was set to expire on July 1, 2018. HB653 removes the sunset and Part VII will now be a permanent part of the Condominium Act.

These bills, as with previous condominium legislation, seem to have something for everyone. And, as in the past, appear to have provisions desirable to some constituents and undesirable to others. As we prepare for the 2018 legislative session, we can expect another annual tinkering with the Condominium Act with similar results and an expansion of a statute that already runs considerably more than 100 pages.

Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod LLPMartin A. Schwartz

http://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=f8bcf954-2fc4-461c-b737-5dbf865e2152

Pinellas Unveils New Hurricane Evacuation Map And App

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June 2, 2017

With the beginning of hurricane season Thursday, officials in Pinellas County are encouraging residents to check what their evacuation levels are because they may have changed since last year.

Thanks to updated storm surge maps, some people are now either more or less likely to evacuate in a hurricane.

Sally Bishop, the director of Pinellas County Emergency Management, said more than 85,000 properties changed evacuation levels, with almost 75,000 now evacuating sooner than before.

In addition, another 20,000 properties changed from a non-evacuation zone to an evacuation zone.

“So it’s really critical that our citizens get online with our tools, call the office, use our interactive voice response system. There’s a multitude of ways for them to check their evac zones, but the fact that they check it so they know what it is for 2017 going forward,” Bishop said.

Bishop adds that the change means around 10 public shelters that previously were not in an evacuation zone are now in D and E zones – the last areas to evacuate when storm surge hits up to 28 to 35 feet.

“So you’re talking a major, major hurricane that requires a level D or E evacuation,” she said.

The county also rolled out its new “Ready Pinellas” app, which will help residents who would like to plan for hurricane season now.

The new “Ready Pinellas” app helps Pinellas County residents prepare for hurricane season and shows location-based evacuation information.

Credit Pinellas County Emergency Management

“I like to call it our ‘just in time’ app or your ‘plan in your pocket’ app,” Bishop said. “It’s location-based, so if you’ve got your location services turned on on your mobile device, it’ll tell you what the evacuation zone is at the location that you’re at.”

“If it’s an actual storm event, it’ll tell you if we’ve ordered an evacuation level and what level we’ve ordered,” she added. “It consolidates all these other tools on our website into a convenient mobile app so you can check your evacuation level there, you can go see how much storm surge would be expected at that location through our storm surge protector app.

“You can monitor social media through it. You can use our checklists while you’re out at the stores and be checking off, right on the app, that you’ve gotten those items done. ”

Pinellas County residents can find their evacuation zone by visiting www.PinellasCounty.org/KnowYourZone.

The new app can also be downloaded free for Apple or Android mobile devices by searching “Ready Pinellas” in your app store or by going to www.pinellascounty.org/emergency.

By Mark Schreiner

http://health.wusf.usf.edu/post/pinellas-unveils-new-hurricane-evacuation-map-and-app

The Essential Guide to Hurricane Preparedness

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The 2016 Hurricane Season begins June 1st with predictions of 12 named storms including five hurricanes and two major hurricanes. As with every hurricane season regardless of forecast, knowing the essentials of how to prepare could truly be a life saver.

Hurricane Knowledge

First, know your hurricane facts and understand common terms used during hurricane forecasts. Storm conditions can vary on the intensity, size and even the angle which the tropical cyclone approaches your area, so it is vital you understand what the forecasters and news reporters are telling you.

Tropical Depressions are cyclones with winds of 38 mph. Tropical Storms vary in wind speeds from 39-73 mph while Hurricanes have winds 74 mph and greater. Typically the upper right quadrant of the storm (the center wrapping around the eye) is the most intense portion of the storm. The greatest threats are damaging winds, storm surge and flooding. This is in part why Hurricane Katrina was so catastrophic when bringing up to 28 foot storm surges onto the Louisiana and Mississippi coastlines.

Here are some important terms you may hear:

  • Tropical Storm Watch: Tropical storm conditions are possible in the area.
  • Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions are possible in the area. Watches are issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.
  • Tropical Storm Warning: Tropical storm conditions are expected in the area.
  • Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected in the area. Warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of tropical storm force winds.
  • Eye: Clear, sometimes well-defined center of the storm with calmer conditions.
  • Eye Wall: Surrounding the eye, contains some of the most severe weather of the storm with the highest wind speed and largest precipitation.
  • Rain Bands: Bands coming off the cyclone that produce severe weather conditions such as heavy rain, wind and tornadoes.
  • Storm Surge: An often underestimated and deadly result of ocean water swelling as a result of a landfalling storm, and quickly flooding coastal and sometimes areas further inland.

During a watch, prepare your home and evacuation plan in case a warning is issued. During a warning, carefully follow the directions of officials, and immediately leave the area if they advise it. In the event of an Extreme Wind Warning/Advisory, which means that extreme sustained winds of 115 mph or greater are expected to begin within an hour, immediately take shelter in the interior portion of a well-built structure.

Hurricane Forecasts

Predicting a tropical cyclone’s path can be challenging; there are many global and local factors that come into play. The storm’s size and path can directly influence what sort of wind patterns guide, enhance or hinder its growth, and vice versa! Forecasters have computers that take huge amounts of data and try to predict where the storm will go and usually can calculate 2-3 days out fairly accurately. This is where you hear the terms computer models and spaghetti models being used. Generally the forecast track or path is given with the average consensus of these models. The National Hurricane Center has the most up-to-date information on tropical cyclone developments, forecasts and weather alerts, discussions analyzing the data and more. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

Hurricane Names

Hurricane names are picked randomly, then rotated and recycled every 6 years. If a hurricane was catastrophic or severely deadly and costly (i.e. Charlie, Katrina, Irene) it is officially retired since use is not appropriate and can be confusing when naming current storms. To view the current list of tropical cyclone names click here: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml

Hurricane Kits

It is important to create a kit of supplies that you could take with you if you are forced to evacuate. This kit will also be useful if you are able to stay in your home, but are still affected by the storm, such as through the loss of power. One common trend seen when hurricanes are approaching is a wide-spread panic. When this happens, people rush in large numbers to get all the supplies they think they need. However, if you prepare your kit ahead of time, you can alleviate a lot of the potential stress of a very chaotic situation. You should create your kit in a bag that you can easily take with you. Some recommended items to include are:

  • Non-perishable food (enough to last at least 3 days)
  • Water (enough to last at least 3 days)
  • First-aid kit (include any prescription medication you may need)
  • Personal hygiene items and sanitation items
  • Flashlights (have extra batteries on hand)
  • Battery operated radio (again, have extra batteries)
  • Waterproof container with cash and important documents
  • Manual can opener
  • Lighter or matches
  • Books, magazines, games for recreation
  • Special needs items: pet supplies and baby supplies if applicable
  • Cooler and ice packs
  • A plan for evacuation and for if family members are separated

Securing Your Home

Know how to secure your home in the event of damaging winds, storm surge and flooding.

  • Cover all of your windows, either with hurricane shutters or wood.
  • Although tape can prevent glass from shattering everywhere, be warned that tape does not prevent the window from breaking.
  • If possible, secure straps or clips to securely fasten your roof to the structure of your home.
  • Make sure all trees and shrubs are trimmed and clear rain gutters.
  • Reinforce your garage doors.
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans, decorations, and anything else that is not tied down.
  • If winds become strong, stay away from windows and doors and close, secure and brace internal doors.

Power Outages

In the event a storm should leave you without power, there are a few things to consider and help you be ready and stay safe outside of your normal hurricane preparedness.

  • Gas: Make sure your tank is full far in advance of an approaching storm. Most people wait until the last minute, rush to get extra gas for cars and generators, and subsequently gas stations can run out early.
  • ATMS: Have extra cash on hand in the event no ATMS in your area are accessible or working.
  • Cell Phones: Charge your cell phone and limit use after power is out.
  • A/C: This can be the most uncomfortable side effect of losing power during a storm. Try to prevent as much light from entering and warming the house by covering up your windows on the inside. If you have back-up or battery operated fans, don’t run them unless you are in the room. Fans create a difference in perceived temperature but do not cool the room; instead they create a cooling effect by dispersing the heat off your skin. It is said they can actually add heat to a room just by running.
  • Water: Fill bathtub and large containers with water for washing and flushing only.
  • Food: Turn your fridge temperature down and/or freeze any food or drinking water that can be frozen if you expect a power outage. Here is a guide on freezing food: Freezing and Food Safety. Have a cooler with ice packs prepared to cool your drinks and snacks after power has been out for more than 4 hours. And importantly, check out this food safety guide for when to discard your perishable food: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html
  • Health/Safety: The CDC has a great guide on how to stay safe in the event of a power outage: Power Outages

Remember, any severe storm can be deadly and destructive. If you’ve survived a landfilling cyclone, you know the inconvenience and distress it can cause. One of the best tips to be prepared is knowing the cycle of a cyclone – Approach, Arrival & Aftermath. Prepare ahead of time and listen to the directions of officials for the approach. Secure your home, or find a safe shelter for its arrival, and know how to proceed safely during the aftermath.

Author: Christine Harrison

http://www.stateofflorida.com/articles/hurricane-preparedness-guide.aspx

Making Your Meetings Work for You

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How can we help you make your meetings work for you? Everyone wants to have quick board meetings, but how can you achieve short meetings without giving up progress? The key is having brief, but effective, well-run meetings. This starts with strong leadership. Open discussion should take place at the beginning of your meeting. By doing this, owners are afforded the opportunity to speak for 3 minutes on agenda items only, and they can voice their opinion or ask questions prior to the agenda beginning. Once this open discussion is concluded, owners will be asked to refrain from talking throughout the remainder of the meeting. This will allow the President to address concerns in the beginning and then conduct association business without interruption for the remainder of the time. Board meetings are held primarily for the board to conduct association business. A board meeting is not a forum for owners to raise individual concerns. Day-to-day issues should be addressed during the week with the association manager or assistant manager. The audience is truly there to listen and observe.

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What’s New in Our Industry?

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We have introduced fresh new ideas into our protocols to help better serve our clients and protect their assets. This year we unveiled our exciting new Cyber Guard+ program. No other management company offers this safeguarding approach to protecting the association’s money on a daily basis. Cyber Crime affects millions of people on a daily basis and this great new program protects our clients from that very threat. The only way to protect our association’s money is to closely monitor it. Therefore, we instituted a procedure for reconciling our clients operating and reserve accounts every 24-hours, thereby allowing us to check for fraudulent activity. Insurance policies don’t offer this level of service and if they did, the cost would far exceed our pass-through costs for this great program. By providing Cyber Guard+ to our clients, we are not only helping our association board members meet their fiduciary obligations, but we are helping to protect our client’s money as well as the volume of their biggest assets, their home or investment property. Our clients can now have peace of mind knowing that their money is safe.

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