“The loss of power really set everyone back. Our gas stations couldn’t pump gas if they didn’t have electricity
or backup generators, and some areas were without cell
coverage because the towers were gone. In a few cases,
managers had to communicate with their tenants by
postcards: at least the Post Office didn’t miss a day.
“Satellite phones are the only way to be sure you’ll
have the means to communicate in real time, but that
technology is still very expensive. We hope it will be-
come cheaper and more feasible.”
Becker said that his properties were spared what hap-
pened in one Long Island neighborhood, where, for
reasons yet undetermined, raw sewage backed up and
geysered out of toilets and bathtubs in some homes.
“Because of that, and other cleanup issues, everyone
was looking for bleach,” he said. “Stores ran out of it.
Property managers had better learn a lesson from that.”
“Ironically enough,” Becker said, “those who had flood
insurance are suffering the most, because insurers are
dragging their feet; those who did not have insurance
are being taken care of in a much timelier manner by
“Owners didn’t anticipate the problems they would
have with insurers,” said Michael P. Hedden, manag-
ing director of FTI Consulting in New York City. “They
weren’t aware of how specific the language was in their
insurance policies and how that language would allow
insurance companies to avoid paying on claims. Owners
who thought they had sufficient coverage were caught
unaware of how insurers can avoid paying, or that their
total coverage was insufficient to let them rebuild to pre-
Hedden said that when a mortgaged property is dam-
aged, the owner and the lender (usually a bank) are co-
payees, so the lender controls the distribution of the
money to consummate repairs. Thus, an unsophisticat-
ed property owner/manager is at the mercy of the bank,
and must prove that the repairs have been bid appropri-
ately and that the money spent will protect the bank’s
asset. A property that can’t afford to pay for its repairs
upfront will be in trouble.
“Owners and managers are now more highly sensitized to utilities’ infrastructure, the provisions in their
insurance contracts and the procedures of the insurance
companies,” said Hedden. “They’ve also learned that
HURRICANE PREPARATION TIPS
(Provided by Rose Evans, vice president of
property management at Levin Management
Corp., AMO, North Plainfield, N.J.)
Evans offers the following rules for
•;Keep your roof drains open and in good
condition to help minimize the incursion of water into the building. Make
sure you have roofers and plumbers in
place before and after the storm.
•;Your day-to-day measures can and
should keep a property ready for any
natural disaster, without much special
action having to be taken when the
event is impending. This is important
since (unlike Sandy) natural disasters
tend to arrive with little or no warning.
•;Walk the property at least weekly.
People who walk the property should
be encouraged to call or text you with
any incipient safety issue. (Be sure you
have enough people on your team to
•;During a storm or other event, inspect
the property to spot any problems with
drainage or with ponding on the roofs
or in parking areas.
•;When there’s time to prepare, contact
your contractors and suppliers.
Make sure you’re at the head of
their response line, so they can clear
•;Tenants and contractors should have
ways to contact you or a subordinate
(and expect a timely response) at any
time—not just during business hours.