NEW YORK CITY-Hurricane Sandy, “a storm that many of us knew was possible and hoped would never occur,” has some New Yorkers still in recovery mode three months later, BOMA/NY president Louis J. Mantia said Wednesday. The record-breaking storm surge last October hit Lower Manhattan especially hard, but property managers throughout the region were put to the test.
With an eye toward preparing for a future storm of comparable magnitude—“and there will be a next time,” Mantia warned—BOMA/NY has compiled a study looking at both the association’s response and that of asset-level building managers. The study’s findings were presented at a BOMA/NY seminar Wednesday morning.
Given the storm’s magnitude, not all of the effects that it produced could have been anticipated, agreed members of BOMA/NY’s Hurricane Sandy Task Force. Yet they stressed preparing to the fullest extent possible. For example, Louis Trimboli, senior real estate manager with CBRE and co-chair of the task force, urged attendees to prepare a comprehensive business continuity plan checklist. “How a building is shut down is as important as how it comes back on,” he told the BOMA/NY audience.
Ronald Zeccardi, VP of property management at the Moinian Group and task force co-chair, stressed the importance of educating tenants on what building operations are necessary for allowing them to even show up post-event. The study found that some tenants expected to be able to report for work after the storm even though the building may have had no power and, therefore, no life-safety systems.
The “Hurricane Sandy: Lessons Learned” study was based in part on a survey of BOMA/NY members, 62% of whom said they had not coordinated with insurers before the storm hit. The rationale, said task force member John Brandstetter, managing director of the Brandstetter Group, was that dealing with insurance concerns was more a corporate-level matter rather than an asset-level one. “I’m sorry—right now you’re going to have to learn about insurance,” Brandstetter said. Property managers need to know their roles and responsibilities in events such as Sandy, he pointed out.
And although most commercial properties affected by the storm have long since cleaned up and gotten on with business, “The insurance claims process has just started,” said Brandstetter. “Those of you who are into it know that all hell is breaking loose.” For example, said task force member John E. Osborn of John E. Osborn P.C., many owners and managers are discovering after the fact that their policies don’t cover some of Sandy’s most widespread effects, such as mold.
Among the most important lessons to be taken from an event such as Sandy, Osborn said, is to build on those lessons in planning for the future. “Respect history,” he said.