Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Strategies for Your PHA

Close up on a file tab with the text Distaster Recovery Plan, focus on the main text and blur effect. Concept image for illustration of DRP ans crisis communication.

As we find ourselves in the middle of hurricane season and brace ourselves for the severe winter weather to come, it’s time to chat about something a little more serious… we’re diving into the world of disaster preparedness and recovery.  

Think of it as getting your house in order, so you’re not caught off guard when Mother Nature decides to throw a curveball. Whether you’re dealing with hurricanes, tornadoes, or even the infamous “polar vortex,” we’re here to arm you with the knowledge to keep calm and weather the storm. We recently did a webinar on this very topic so we’re kind of experts now (psssst… that’s your cue to go give that a watch). 

So, grab your favorite beverage, put on your thinking cap, and let’s tackle this together! 

What’s the Deal with Disaster Preparedness and Recovery?  

Disaster preparedness involves crafting a solid game plan and assembling resources to combat any potential natural disasters in your area. On the flip side, disaster recovery is all about putting that plan into action when the going gets tough. Here are just a few key areas where you need to be sure you are the man (or woman) with the plan when the time comes. 

Safety first!  

Safety, my friends, is the magical word here. When disaster strikes, your priority is safeguarding your team, tenants, and resources. It’s about protecting lives, minimizing health risks, reducing property damage, and ensuring community resilience.

Prioritizing safety measures provides peace of mind, demonstrates responsibility, and ensures compliance with regulations. Effective communication and well-prepared plans play a vital role in keeping everyone safe and promoting a swift recovery. Everyone should know their role in this real-life action movie.

  • Is your data backed up?
  • Do your tenants have a clue about evacuation routes? Extra points if you’ve got a strategy for elderly or disabled tenants.
  • Who are your agency’s partners in this battle? Collaboration can be a key strategy if and when a disaster comes knocking. 

Minimize the damage.  

Plot twist alert! You need not one, but two action plans.  

Plan #1: Preparation.  

Plan #2: Response.  

You want your properties prepped before the disaster hits and a swift response afterward. Minimizing property damage after a natural disaster is crucial because it speeds up recovery, ensures safety, and mitigates negative financial impact to all parties affected. It’s about protecting both physical structures and the overall well-being of the community. Take a page out of Florida’s hurricane playbook with evacuation routes, supply lists, and even a “how to protect your windows” chapter.

And don’t forget about those pesky insurance policies – make sure you’re covered for whatever curveballs nature throws your way. Trust us, when you’re reeling from the aftermath of a disaster is NOT the time you want to find out that your insurance policies are not up to snuff.  

Time is of the essence!  

A super quick response is key to lessening damage. One great example of this is how a timely intervention can prevent water damage from turning into a mold nightmare. Timely responses also facilitate efficient recovery efforts, enabling communities to resume normalcy faster and minimize the overall impact of the disaster.

Quick responses save the day, turning potential hazards into manageable situations. A checklist and a well-prepared team can make all the difference when the clock is ticking.  

Keep your operational wheels turning.  

Operations were thrown for a loop when everyone went remote during the pandemic. However, all that experience can now be put to some good use! Disaster can strike at any time, and being able to keep things rolling without your office is crucial.

  • Who’s essential?
  • What’s the chain of command?
  • Is your staff prepared to work remotely?
  • Don’t forget your participants – you need to be able to keep them in the loop with clear communication and assistance.

We have a few great tips on how your agency can make the digital transition so you can be fully prepared for this very thing. Give that a read so your agency can be as ready as possible. 

A few ways to resume operations after a disaster include: 

  • Emergency Repairs and Assessments: Conducting rapid assessments of units and properties to identify damages and prioritize necessary repairs. Swiftly addressing critical issues, such as restoring utilities and repairing structural damage, allows tenants to return to safe living conditions. 
  • Communication and Coordination: Establishing clear lines of communication with tenants, staff, and relevant authorities to provide updates, information, and support. Coordinating with emergency response agencies and community partners can help to facilitate efficient allocation of resources and ensure that tenants receive essential services as quickly as possible. 
  • Temporary Housing Solutions: Arranging temporary housing options for displaced residents while repairs are underway. This may involve collaborating with emergency shelters, local organizations, or neighboring housing authorities until their homes are fully restored. 

Follow the rules.  

Let’s face it – we’ve all got rules to follow. Disaster prep is no exception. Thankfully, HUD and your local powers that be have done the heavy lifting by outlining the steps for you. Your job? Study up, get your agency ready, and ensure everyone knows the plan. It’s like following a recipe for a disaster-resistant cake – no guesswork needed. 

FEMA, Insurance, and Contractors… All the fun stuff! 

Understanding FEMA, insurance, and contractors can be a game-changer. FEMA swoops in with disaster assistance when insurance falls short. And speaking of insurance, make sure you’re covered – it’s not automatic!

The best example of this is the need for a separate policy to cover flood damage. It’s not covered under your standard policy and a lot of people don’t know that. Plus, those contractors? They better be up to code. Knowing these ropes before disaster strikes can save your agency valuable time, resources, and sanity. 

Master the art of communication.  

Break out your megaphone – communication is everything. It ensures that tenants, staff, and stakeholders receive accurate and timely information about safety measures, evacuation procedures, and recovery efforts.

Clear communication fosters trust, minimizes panic, and promotes a sense of community resilience. By keeping everyone informed and engaged, your agency can coordinate resources, address concerns, and facilitate a smoother recovery process, ultimately aiding in the well-being and stability of all involved.

When disaster strikes, keeping your team, participants, and various organizations in the loop is like composing a symphony. Clear communication avoids missteps and confusion, ensuring everyone will be on the same page and able to move forward. 

Study, study, study! 

Cue dramatic music – it’s time for a review. Every agency has a plan, but does everyone know it by heart? Familiarity with your strategy identifies strengths, reveals gaps, and ensures a smooth operation. Plus, it keeps you in compliance with those pesky regulations.  

And there you have it, our whirlwind journey through the world of disaster preparedness and recovery. From action plans and partnerships to insurance and communication, you’re now armed with the tools to weather any storm that comes your way.

Stay safe, stay prepared, and remember – you’re the hero of this story! 


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