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MIAMI-Although Florida did not experience any major hurricanes during the 2006, office tenants should still prepare for the possibility of experiencing one during the 2007 season, says Studley managing director Tom Capocefalo.

With weather experts predicting a more active hurricane season, tenants should have an emergency plan in place in the event of a major storm. The hurricane season begins June 1 and lasts through Nov. 30. With the absence of a major storm in 2006, there is a tendency for office tenants to forget the difficulties experienced during the active 2005 season, Capocefalo says.

“Not only should tenants have a plan, but all applicable information should be in one location so everybody knows where it is,” Capocefalo says.

When tenants are considering moving or relocating offices in South Florida, they often consider the hurricane-resistant features of a building, such as impact-resistant glass and other features, he explains. While these considerations are important, Capocefalo adds, it is more important for tenants to have an emergency plan in place to handle storm situations. “There’s only so much you can do in terms of the building,” he says. “It’s much more important to have an internal plan that has been adopted and agreed upon.”

The plan should contain contingencies plans for handling data backup, payroll and relocation of personnel, among other aspects. “What happens if computers or equipment are destroyed?” Capocefalo says. “Who will handle payroll in the event of a storm? Tenants should be asking themselves these questions.”

Office tenants should also have a plan for the short-term relocation of employees in the event a building loses electricity for a prolonged period of time, he says. This may involve shifting personnel from one local office to another, such as from Miami to West Palm Beach, or may involve having employees work from a hotel or other location.

“Tenants need to take this issue seriously,” he says. “They should have a plan in place that everybody has adopted. We’re always amazed when we speak to companies and they do not have a clear plan in place.”

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