Is Your Community Association Ready? Be Prepared - September is National Preparedness Month

Be prepared. We've all heard that that is the Boy Scout's motto. However, it should also be the motto of your community association. We are all witnessing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on the southern states of our country. And, while hurricanes are not a threat to our fine state, we all know that we have our own types of severe weather.

September is National Preparedness Month. Throughout the month, federal, state and local leaders, together with organizations such as the American Red Cross and the Department of Homeland Security, will promote basic steps that citizens can take to prepare themselves for emergencies. Community and homeowners associations should also take steps to anticipate emergency and safety issues that might arise, before they do.

Some steps include:

* Reviewing your association's insurance policies to assure that they meet the requirements of the association's governing documents, as well as practical requirements. As an example, all associations should have endorsements to their hazard insurance policies that cover the cost of upgrades to improvements required as a result of building code compliance. In other words, if damage to common elements is so substantial that the building department will require compliance with building code amendments adopted since the structure was originally built, without the insurance endorsement, the association could be forced to levy a special assessment to raise sufficient funds to cover the cost of rebuilding, as insurance will be inadequate.

* Assess repair and maintenance schedules. The association should devise a short term plan for potential emergency responses, as well as long term plans for maintaining and replacing all common elements. The long term plan is generally achieved through a professionally prepared reserve study, and the board of directors should make every effort to set aside sufficient reserves to meet the replacement needs. The short term plan will require sufficient emergency reserve funds to be able to satisfy the community's emergency needs.

* Utilize community preparedness and safety experts. The American Red Cross provides information about disaster preparedness. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation and local law enforcement agencies provide educational information about crime prevention, including educational information on topics ranging from sexual assault to trick-or-treating.

* Encourage homeowners to prepare themselves for emergencies. Devote a newsletter article to safety issues and emergency contact information, as well as sources of information for homeowners to obtain additional information.

The disaster will not go away. But, with adequate foresight and planning, dealing with its effects may make everyone's life a little easier.

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