Hurricane Irene flounced through the East Coast this past week, and though this Category 1 event could have done greater damage, its reminded self-storage operators in many areas of two things: the importance of emergency preparedness, and the role compassion plays in the process.

Teri Lanza

September 2, 2011

3 Min Read
No More Floating Along: Disaster Planning in Self-Storage

Nearly all of my family and several of my close friends live in New England, so it was a difficult week as I waited to see who would be affected by Hurricane Irene and to what degree. My father, in Connecticut, sacrificed a few tree branches and just a few hours of power. My mother, also in Connecticut, amazingly suffered no damage to her brand-new pergola; but she spent several days without electricity, using a gas-powered generator to salvage the contents of the meat freezer.

My friends in Vermont face worse consequences. They were fortunate in that their home was unscathed, but their places of business were severely flooded. The town in which they work has no potable drinking water. Many people are stranded in their homes thanks to the decimation of roads. A state of emergency has been declared, and supplies are being flow in to some communities.

Theres been much discussion among self-storage operators in the past two weeks about preparations for the storm, its impact and its aftermath. Self-Storage Talk Community Manager John Carlisle shared some video from North Carolina and several Irene-related discussion threads in his blog, Hurricane Irene Affects Industry? This afternoon ISS Editor Amy Campbell published the article Self-Storage Industry Reacts to Hurricane Irene: Preparedness, Insurance, Keys to Dealing With Natural Disasters, with storm-related insight from Extra Space Storage Inc. as well as representatives from third-party management and insurance companies.

Though this Category 1 event could have done greater damage, its reminded us of two things: the importance of emergency preparedness, and the role compassion plays in the process. Some East Coast operators are extending a helping hand to homeowners and businesses in need, offering free storage space during the recovery.  In Vermont, neighbors are bonding together to muck out flooded buildings and distribute clean drinking water.

Wherever you live or work, whether on a coast, flood plain or desert, a natural (or man-made) disaster can strike. Living in Arizona, we dont often have cause to fear hurricanes and tornadoes; and yet wildfires have been devastating in our state, and this year has brought hideous dust storms. It does us no good to bury our heads in the proverbial sand, or float along on a flood of denialevery home and business owner must have a catastrophe plan. (Particularly for the zombie apocalypse, according to my husband.)

For self-storage operators, this plan must extend beyond the immediate protection of their facilities. Consider: How will you address the needs of customers after the event, particularly if their stored goods were damaged? How will you participate in community efforts or support victims in crisis? Thinking through these issues now, before facing the throes of duress, will lead to cooler heads when it counts.

Do you have some emergency tips or a personal experience to share with our readers? How have you dealt with instances of fire, flood, theft or other tragedies at your storage site? Please share them here on the blog, and enjoy a calamity- and zombie-free Labor Day weekend.

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