Superstorm Sandy’s impact devastated the Northeast last fall leaving more than $50 million in damage in its wake, and rendering countless businesses powerless for days and even weeks. In the year following the storm’s landfall, many commercial property owners are taking active steps to better prepare for weather-related disasters.
According to FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Association), businesses in 113 of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities lost more than $382 million in commercial property and an estimated $64 million in losses from the interruption of their businesses.
Alfred Sanzari Enterprises, one of New Jersey’s most active real estate development firms, has implemented a number of new preparedness measures to prevent and minimize future property damage, and keep tenants safe during emergency events.
“Well-prepared businesses continue to prove that the majority of property loss is preventable,” according to Dave Cali, vice-president of property management. “In the aftermath of natural disasters, reoccupying commercial buildings and returning to ‘business as normal’ is a priority. Generators are an integral part of the preparedness process when power interruptions are anticipated.”
Alfred Sanzari Enterprises is upgrading their current base of emergency generators with expanded services to further ensure tenant safety. Some of those expanded services include heating, security, lighting and continuity of management online services. Barrier walls also were put in at one of the firm’s commercial properties to prevent water infiltration should another weather event of Sandy’s magnitude occur. In the case of weather events that have “lead time,” extra preparations can be valuable as well. Alfred Sanzari Enterprises has contracted with a leading heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) firm to acquire temporary generators and supplemental HVAC units as future emergencies arise.
“Our property management team closely monitors weather forecasts and changing storm conditions to ensure timely and effective emergency management,” Cali added. “Smartphone apps from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Red Cross have proven to be extremely reliable in providing up-to-the-minute information and guidelines for disaster preparedness.”
Additionally, emergency supply containers are stored throughout Alfred Sanzari Enterprises’ commercial portfolio, and include fuel and life safety items such as blankets, flashlights, water, first-aid kits, batteries and flares.
OPENING THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION
Beyond physical measures, a carefully structured communication network is equally important in disaster preparedness. Following Superstorm Sandy, Alfred Sanzari Enterprises implemented Send Word Now, a portfolio-wide emergency notification system designed to quickly disseminate information about its properties, safety procedures and related content. As future property-related issues arise, commercial tenants and employees will be informed via real-time phone, email and text messaging.
“This system allows us to reach our entire tenant base on multiple levels to ensure they receive emergency notifications in a timely manner. We are constantly evaluating what we can do to improve the way we communicate and maintain continuity with tenants,” said Cali. “Send Word Now is a very reliable system that allows us to significantly improve communication with our entire tenant base in times of crisis.”