Hurricane roundup: How to prepare for Irma, recovery efforts from Harvey

Hurricane Irma on Sept. 7, 2017, as seen by MODIS on board Terra satellite. Photo: Antti Lipponen/FlickrHurricane Irma on Sept. 7, 2017, as seen by MODIS on board Terra satellite.
Photo: Antti Lipponen/Flickr

As Hurricane Irma leaves behind a wake of destruction through the Caribbean, meteorologists are predicting it will hit the United States by this Saturday, Sept. 9, but as for who will experience the worst of it, the forecast is uncertain.

As a Category 5, Irma has set a record by sustaining 185 mph winds for over 24 hours and is the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center’s records.

While it’s unclear as to where Irma’s path will take it, it is important to use the time beforehand to prepare for floods from the storm surge, heavy rainfall and damaging winds. Currently, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas are advised to monitor the storm’s progress and make preparations.

Most people focus on boarding up their homes, but hurricane preparedness does not end there as businesses should be taken care of too. According to the National Hurricane Survival Initiative, 40 percent of small businesses that close due to hurricane damage do not reopen.

There are three key steps to prepare and protect your company from a hurricane: protect your property, protect important documents and information and maintain an emergency kit.

You can help protect your workplace by installing hurricane shutters or covering windows with plywood. The roof should be evaluated if it can withstand a storm and branches of nearby trees should be removed it they could fall and damage the building.

Anchor and brace large furniture like shelves and filing cabinets and sandbag any area subject to flooding. Turn off all utilities prior to a hurricane making landfall, if possible.

Documents that are hard to produce such as insurance documents, legal contracts, tax returns and accounting statements should be stored securely in a waterproof container and back-up copies made.

Important data should also be backed up and stored at an off-site location so it can be recovered if the physical computer or device is damaged during a hurricane.

While there is usually plenty of notice before a hurricane strikes, if you or your employees are at work you should have an emergency preparedness kit there. FEMA has a printable checklist that lists recommended and additional items to have in an emergency kit.

Some companies like Bell Landscape Architecture have already announced they will be closed today through Monday in order to board up and clean up. Click here to see if you are in an evacuation zone and evacuation routes.

Yardi creates online housing registry for Hurricane Harvey victims  

Yardi, a real estate investment and property management software provider for commercial, multifamily and residential markets, has created a free online housing registry for displaced residents affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The webpage, Hurricane Harvey Disaster Response Page, is hosted on RENTCafe, and allows anyone in need of accommodations to find housing in the area. Here housing providers can post available units for rent. There is no charge for housing providers to list their apartments and houses on the page, or for residents to use it.

Yardi also has created a hotline for evacuees to call for housing assistance. The toll-free number is (844) 363-6317.

“We have many valued clients in the area, and it is important to us to assist those clients as well as their residents who may have been displaced,” said Anant Yardi, president and founder of Yardi. “Thousands of people have lost their housing due to this devastating natural disaster, and we want to help in any way we can.”

The company has also created a $1 million fund to support nonprofits working to rebuild the areas affected. Yardi has pledged to match employee donations to the fund as well.

Keep America Beautiful launches long-term initiative to support cleanup

After the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Harvey and the impending threat of Hurricane Irma, Keep America Beautiful has launched the Community Restoration and Resiliency Fund.

The community improvement nonprofit organization says that more than two dozen local affiliates and many other local partners serve communities where millions of people were directly affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Lowe’s, a long-time sponsor of Keep America Beautiful, is a founding member of the fund and has donated $125,000.

“As the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey became clear – and with the dangerous threat of Hurricane Irma – we’ve been discussing our role and that of our affiliates in helping communities recover and rebuild,” said Helen Lowman, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. “For generations, Keep America Beautiful and its affiliates have supported critical public space restoration projects that help remedy property damaged or destroyed by natural disasters.”

The funds will be used to provide immediate and long-term support for initial and ongoing cleanup efforts and to help rebuild public spaces like parks, downtown areas and more.

“Public spaces are the heart of a community, providing safe, welcoming and beautiful places for neighbors to gather, love, laugh and heal during the long journey towards a ‘new normal’ for survivors and the community at-large,” Lowman said. “Cleaning and restoring beautiful public spaces — and improving their resiliency for the future — can play an important role in the overall recovery of a city, town or neighborhood and help to strengthen a sense of community.”

To donate to the fund, click here.

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