As Labor Day weekend approached last year, we received the dreaded NOAA Hurricane Cone Forecast Map that showed a little rain storm in the Eastern Atlantic with South Florida right in its projected path. Since the storm had winds barely above 35 mph and wouldn’t make landfall over the U.S. for another two weeks, everyone filed that email away and returned their focus to which beach they were going to visit over the long holiday. As the weekend progressed, that little storm went from a few organized clouds to a Category 3 hurricane, now named Irma, practically overnight, and with temperatures in the Atlantic near record highs providing more fuel, was forecasted to intensify to catastrophic levels.
Immediately upon our return the following week, it was apparent that Hurricane Irma had the potential to impact many of our assignments in South Florida and even had the chance to hit the entire state, moving in a path from south to north. Because almost 20 million square feet of Foundry assignments could potentially be affected by a direct hit, our Emergency Action Plan (EAP) was put into action. What began as high-level discussions with the Foundry leadership group eventually became a full company effort.
Each day leading up to the storm involved multiple conference calls, client meetings, tenant meetings, on-site walk-throughs, stocking up on recovery supplies and the full implementation of our EAP. Although Hurricane Irma indirectly hit most parts of Florida, the preparation and dedication of the Foundry team ultimately enabled our buildings and their occupants to come out of the storm relatively unscathed. Further, the properties that lost power and had moderate damage were restored to their original condition and buildings were re-opened quickly, thus, minimizing the loss of business.
Prior to each hurricane season, the EAP is reviewed, updated, and, most importantly, communicated to the property management team, clients and tenants. Most of our clients and equity partners live outside of Florida and have never been through a hurricane, yet alone prepared for one. They see the sensational news footage of buildings and neighborhoods in pieces once a storm blows through and assume the same thing is going to happen to their investments. The Foundry EAP eases those concerns by over-preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. This includes having national contracts with restoration companies that will ensure swift repairs are made, if needed, contacting the insurance carrier beforehand to confirm their claims procedures, and ensuring that above all, safety for our employees and tenants comes first.
It’s amazing to see how communities come together during an event like this and the Foundry community is no different. We received calls from people in just about every one of our markets offering assistance both professionally and personally. It can be challenging preparing for something that can have such a big impact on our business, while at the same time having to worry about protecting your home and family, but it was par for the course that the Foundry Commercial team banded together to support both aspects. As with any event like this, our talented Foundry managers generate new ideas and create improved practices that will enable us to be even more resilient for the next season.
We’ll be ready.