Maurice Pogoda is the president of Pogoda Cos. in Michigan. One of his facilities recently suffered a natural disaster. Below is his brief recount of the tale, including photos, and a thank you to the thoughtful industry that supported him with advice.
On Saturday, April 25, my wife and I were seeing a Broadway play when, during intermission, I checked my cell phone and had an urgent message from my VP of Operations, Tom Berlin, to call him ASAP. When I reached him, he informed me that one of our Michigan properties had been devastated by severe storm winds that topped out at 90 mile per hour. He didn’t know the exact details, but he thought that we had “lost” several buildings. He said he was on the way to the property and would keep me informed. Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy the second act very much.
It turns out that we had two buildings completely destroyed with damage to six other buildings. The roofs, walls and doors from the two destroyed buildings settled on top of other buildings and tenants’ belongings were strewn throughout the store and the fields beyond. Fortunately, I am proud to say, we have terrific people in Pogoda Management Co. Everyone stepped up admirably and pitched in. Our first call was to a security guard company to ensure the safekeeping of tenant’s belongings; the second call was to a disaster/restoration company; the next call was to our insurance company.
Over the next week, the store returned to some semblance of order. Debris was removed, temporary buildings were built to house goods from the destroyed buildings, we called all the tenants, and we met with the insurance adjustors. We began the long, arduous task to put our store and business back together.
While I could go on and on about the challenges we encountered, my purpose in writing this letter is two-fold. One is to urge everyone to review your insurance coverage and make sure you have the best self-storage coverage available. I will surely never take my insurance for granted again.
Second, in the couple of days after the disaster, I contacted many of the friends I have made in my 22 years in the self-storage business. All are active members of the Self Storage Association and/or the Self Storage Association of Michigan. I cannot tell you how selfless and helpful their advice has been. Since we never had a disaster of this magnitude, I sought the experience of those who had. We received numerous e-mails and calls with terrific thoughts and suggestions.
I have to give a special thanks to the folks at Watson & Taylor Management from Texas. They spent hours on the phone with us and shared their knowledge and expertise in disaster mitigation. The SSA was also very gracious and gave us a copy of its Emergency Preparedness Manual, which we have found to be invaluable.
I want to publicly thank everyone who so kindly helped us. It is very comforting to be a part of an industry that is so willing to help others in need.