Inside Self-Storage

MAY 2019

Inside Self-Storage (ISS) is an information source for industry owners, managers, developers and investors covering news, trends, facility operation, finance, real estate, construction, development, marketing, technology, insurance and legality.

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T he Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 through Nov. 30. This time can bring some of the most destructive weather to the United States and surrounding areas. It can also create great anxiety for self-storage operators and their customers. Hurricanes bring the threat of high winds, storm surge, flooding, power outages and damage that can range from minimal to catastrophic. Preparation for a severe weather event should take place well before a watch or warning is issued. Don't wait until the last minute! You and your tenants will be stressed, and you don't want to miss a key step. Some items can be done days, weeks or even months in advance. Prep List Buy supplies. Well in advance, purchase plastic sheeting, tarps, animal traps, mops, buckets, cleaning supplies, chainsaws, work gloves, safety equipment, barricades, flashlights and batteries. Store these items in the most secure location on the property. Don't wait, as they'll be in high demand and could be hard to find or sold out. Create a list of helpful vendors. This should include your insurance agent, a water-extraction service, a tree service, electricians, plumbers, contractors, gate companies, etc. Consolidate all their contact information in a single sheet or book you can take with you if you must evacuate. Offer tenant insurance. Promote your tenant-insurance or tenant-protection program well before hurricane season begins. Most companies won't issue policies once a watch or warning has been issued for your area. Encourage customers to add insurance to supplement their homeowner's or renter's policies. Secure loose items. Signs, trash cans, benches, flags, banners, flower pots or other items that could take flight in high winds should be moved to a safe location well before the storm. Prep the office. Elevate computers off the floor to protect against flooding. Secure all files and cash. Cover everything in plastic sheeting. Board windows or install hurricane shutters where possible. Plan property access. Know how to lock down your gate and other facility access. Notify customers multiple times daily if you plan to close the facility, and consider your plan to allow access when you return. Commercial customers such as landscapers, contractors, tree companies, electricians, etc., may need access during the evacuation or immediately afterward, so communicate with them regularly. Make sure they know they may not have unit access until the property has been deemed safe by management. Encourage them to store necessary items at their home during the storm. Plan for utilities. Know where your water and power shut-offs are and make sure they're functional. Contact your utility providers and find out if they'll cut power or if you need to shut off utilities prior to evacuation. Stock up. Create a stockpile of bottled water, shelf-stable food, a manual can-opener, a change of clothes, cleaning supplies, etc. Since you don't know if your home or workplace could be damaged, keep storm supplies at both locations. If you don't need them, donate them to local charities to help others. Living in South Carolina, we're sometimes in the path of destruction. Here are a couple of things we learned during recent past storms. Hurricane Matthew, September 2016. Wind can cause roof damage or fell trees, which could impact buildings or block driveways and roadways. This Category 2 knocked down nearly 100,000 trees on Hilton Head Island alone. Twenty trees fell or were leaning on our property when we returned from mandatory evacuation. After the storm, we called more than 20 tree companies and couldn't get anyone to come give us a quote for more than week because they had so many calls for help. Throughout the county, there was flooding, power outages, uprooted trees, damaged buildings and bridges, and blocked roads. Debris clean-up lasted for more than a year, and we still have many areas where trees continue to lean or remain uprooted. Hurricane Michael, October 2018. Heavy and wind-driven rain, storm surge, rising rivers, and overflowing culverts and ponds all contribute to water damage. With Hurricane Michael we saw heavy, prolonged rain create flooding for days and weeks, even inland, as the water made its way downstream. The damage stretched over several states. Here in the Carolinas, we endured rain, wind, surge and inland areas that were greatly affected by flooding. Insider advice on what to do around the storm Preparing for Hurricane Season What We Learned From Past Storms By Donna L. and Kevin J. Edwards May 2019 I ISS 25

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