Business Law Articles
By: Frank P. Izzo, Esq.
Iseman, Cunningham, Riester & Hyde LLP
Albany/Poughkeepsie, New York
When a natural disaster strikes and a region is declared a disaster area, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) comes in to provide assistance, often including cleanup and financial aid to eligible individuals and communities. However, until April 2015, when the FEMA Disaster Assistance Reform Act of 2015 was amended, FEMA policy did not allow for federal assistance in cleanup of debris from community association roads. Community associations are now allowed access to these federal benefits. FEMA will provide technical assistance to homeowners’ associations in obtaining federal help with debris removal, and it will help develop policy solutions for condo and co-op owners to enable them to gain assistance for repairs to storm-damaged common areas.
In planning for a natural disaster, communities and associations should have action plans in place and be prepared for the unexpected. Association leaders should identify the types of natural disasters that are likely to impact the geographic area and the consequences and challenges posed by each potential catastrophe.
Crucial to the success of any plan is communication, both before and after a disaster. Homeowners should know what to expect and how information will be provided to them during and after a disaster.
The potential enormity of natural disasters should also be considered when choosing insurance coverage, including deductibles. Even with appropriate insurance coverage, it is unlikely immediate access to those funds will be provided following a disaster, so it is important to consider availability of financial resources until insurance funds are available.
Preparedness is not an option. It is part of an association’s fiduciary duty. The association’s plan should establish procedures to follow both during and after a disaster in order to minimize damage to people and property.
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