If you’re reading this today, I want you to do one thing…….smile. Yes, I understand your home and car is damaged. I understand your personal property has been destroyed. I understand we may be without power for a while. But you already survived. Others did not. Your spouse, children, parents, sisters, brothers, aunts uncles and friends all made it through ………..ALIVE. Be thankful. It could have been much worse. Much worse.
There are significant moments in life that forever remain monumental in our thoughts. Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated? On 9-11? I think Irma now falls into that category of life changing moments. Just like with Hurricane Andrew, years from now people will ask “Were you here when Irma hit Florida?” Going forward there will always be a “before Irma” time period and an “after Irma” time period. I saw the devastation of Hurricane Andrew first hand. It was a difficult year or two for everyone who got caught in the eye of that killer storm. But eventually, homes and businesses were rebuilt, schools re-opened and gradually life returned to normal, just like it always does. It will just take some time. But things will return to normal.
If you’re serving on a Board I know you are eager to immediately help rebuild your community. That is admirable. But slow down. Don’t be eager to accept settlement offers from your insurance company without knowing if you are resolving them of any additional liability. Don’t be eager to hire anyone to make repairs to the community without verifying licensure and proof of insurance. Have legal counsel review your repair contracts first to make sure your contractor is not ripping you off and that the job is done timely with proper permits. Don’t put down large deposits on repair contracts or those funds may be lost. Get advice on whether or not your intended fix is not actually a “material alteration” that requires the vote of the owners for approval. This is an incredibly difficult time to be a board member. It is a challenge to say the least. But, if done right, it will be very rewarding as you watch your community rebuild and thrive. If not done right, you will be hiring lawyers to fight lots of battles in the future.
Unit owners………..don’t expect your Board to be able to rebuild overnight. Have patience. The board wants a new roof and electricity as quickly as you do. If you have any expertise in construction or engineering, now is the time to step up and ask your board If they would like your help in selecting additional contractors and deciding what repairs need to be made.
Be kind to each other. Everything damaged can be replaced. Let the insurance companies cry about it, not you. I do feel sorry for those associations that never thought a hurricane would come and didn’t bother to fund reserve accounts. Your problems are now bigger than some other associations. Unfortunately, special assessments now lie ahead. Unit owners keep in mind that if you have an HO-6 policy, your policy will cover at least part of the special assessment.
So, let’s take a deep breath, assess the damage and rebuild. Calmly. Stay focused and don’t get taken advantage of. We will all overcome the devastation together. Petty disputes and silly arguments only detract from what we can accomplish together if we all help each other succeed. Let’s act like neighbors and friends. And let’s not forget that we still have our family, our friends and each other.