One of the best defenses against natural disasters is to have a disaster plan in place. Depending on where your association is in the United States, there are numerous disasters, such as earthquakes, wild fires, tornados, floods, and hurricanes that residents potentially face. Emergency planning has become an essential skill for association managers, who should understand what types of disasters are likely to occur, develop disaster response plans, practice them, and discuss them with the residents.

On June 3, 2011, Yahoo News posted a story of a recent example from this spring’s active tornado season. The tornado sirens blared in a 70-unit St. Louis condominium building, and the residents went straight to the building’s underground windowless garage and huddled in the center. They had a response plan in place and had been made aware of the plan organized by their experienced property manager. Without such a disaster plan, the April tornado that carved a 22 mile track of destruction through the city, damaging 200 homes and leaving people without power, would have had a greater impact on the community.

It is important for association managers and board members to commit to a disaster plan, communicate it to residents, and test it in the community. There are various certification courses available to those in the industry interested in further information on this topic. There is even a National Board of Certification for Community Association Managers (NBC-CAM), which is an independent board that develops certification (known as the CMCA – Certified Manager of Community Associations®) and standards for community association managers.