Catastrophic Emergency Best Practices?

Real Estate Agent with Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) DB-17066

I have pondered a lot about disaster preparedness after watching and reading about Hurricane Harvey.  I used to think I was be prepared since most of my data is stored and backed up in the cloud.  After reading some of the first hand accounts of the people affected, I finally realized my thinking was too linear, it isn't just about my data!

As the owner/broker of Progressive Realty Corporation in Boise, Idaho; I started expanding my thinking to see what else it might impact.

  • What about the impact on my agents and their families
  • What about my clients and their families
  • What about all my pending sales and listings - they would evaporate quicker than the water
  • How would I rebuild my company if I was too busy rebuilding my own home

As I watched the news this morning, I was pleased to see how technology was expediting the damage assessments.  Satelite images of before and after make it pretty quick for insurance companies to determine the extent of the damage with date stamped images (at least of the exterior).  Drones are being used to fly over areas that are still not safe to inspect in person.  They talked about how this new application of technology lets insurance companies know about potential claims even before families have a chance to report them!  This gave me a lot of hope.

Then, I thought back to the days of Hurricane Mathew last year that hit the coast of Florida and luckily stayed about 5 miles off shore near Daytona Beach area where I have family.  It has been almost a year and there are still homes with damage waiting to be repaired.  I remember seeing signs warning about scams and unlicensed people doing repairs.

What if we had companies that are approved in advance for national disaster repairs?  For example, the trash removal, water / mold remediation, and roofing contractors in the path of Hurricane Harvey are not scaled for the huge amount of work that has to be done immediately to prevent further damage.  Why not have a process in place that allows the fast tracking of temporary contractor licensing to expedite the repairs?  Maybe this is based on large national/international companies like the insurance companies that can be allowed to use these pre-vetted temporary contractors to work on their behalf? 

Another thing that is missing during a major emergency is management.  What if major corporations had the ability to donate management expertise instead of just money?  Think of it as kind of National Management similar to National Guard.  Major corporations could have their experts in logistics, contracting, human resource management, etc., all be trained and ready to be called up in time of emergency.  I think we could do more good sometimes with better management than just by sending more money.

Does FEMA have a suggestion box online that people can send these types of suggestions to?  Do any of you have additional suggestions that might be implemented during the next natural disaster?


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  1. Ginger Harper 09/01/2017 10:20 AM
Local News and Events
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progressive realty boise idaho
hurricane harvey
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Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Jim, I find it is always good to review and tweak emergency preparedness anytime we just happen to focus more when it is in our face. My heart goes out to the people in TX and Louisiana that have been effected by this storm. As to preparing, in the military that is what we did everyday and the simplest plans are the best...and need to test and practice...Endre

Sep 01, 2017 05:47 PM #6
Susan McCall, Independent Listing and Buyer Agent
Compass Realty Solutions - Portland, OR
Bringing buyers and sellers together!

My life is stored on my computer tower.  I can see me dragging it around 

My parents did the food storing and prep thing for disaster and it was so much work and so much money.  Took up a lot of space in the house.  

There was a TV story locally about Serv Pro teams in the Portland Metro area that were sending all their teams to the Houston area and were planing on working 15 hour days.  Their goal was 2 clean up 4 houses per team per day....that translates into 16 per day, which I sure will be a great help.

Sep 01, 2017 10:17 PM #7
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty 914-419-0270 (NY),, (MT) 406-270-3667, more information to be provided shortly - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Those are good questions, and I agree that money isn't always the answer. It's better to have a detailed plan that might never be needed, than no plan at all.

Sep 02, 2017 03:13 AM #8
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA,

The extent of devastation in Houston boggles the mind. You have some excellent ideas though I hope someone "important" reads them

Sep 02, 2017 03:53 AM #9
Mega Team Real Estate
Realty ONE Group Alliance - San Mateo, CA
San Francisco and Peninsula Real Estate Concierge

 Very excellent thoughts. Thanks for sharing this.

Sep 02, 2017 04:01 AM #10
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

One never knows what Mother Nature will deal an area....and hands on expertise is for sure a very valuable asset....and people in that part of the world will tell you that much of what is "saving" Houston was learned from Katrina.

Sep 02, 2017 04:03 AM #11
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Good morning Jim.  Folks will have a hard time finding skilled labor to help with the restoration of their home in the coming months.  This is an issue we've faced after hurricanes around here.

Sep 02, 2017 04:56 AM #12
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Thanks for stimulating us to have a plan for catastrophic occurrences.

It does have a widespread impact.

We should also take into the plan the impact on the economy of the region and what happens to the local Real Estate Market. We may have to be prepared to shift gears.

Thanks for the post.

Sep 02, 2017 05:35 AM #13
Ben DeHaven
Haven Realty & Investments - Winter Haven, FL
Proudly serving Winter Haven & Lakeland, Florida

It can take a long time for all the homes to be repaired. 

Sep 02, 2017 07:14 AM #14
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Good questions and good ideas! Being prepared is so important, but most of us unfortunately are just not prepared enough when something like this strikes.

Sep 02, 2017 12:20 PM #15
Stavrula "Sam" Crafa, RNC,GRI, CDPE, PSA
Future Home Realty - Seminole, FL
Providing the integrity and service you deserve.

Great ideas. Maybe writing a letter to FEMA with your ideas might have someone take notice. Even if they put just one of your ideas in place for the next disaster, it would be a start. I feel so bad for the people in Huston that lost everything. It could have been us here in Florida instead. Grateful it wasn't.....this time. 

Sep 02, 2017 12:39 PM #16
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Jim- you're right about gathering the organizational skills to help with the aftermath. And I think Harvey has caused many businesses as well as individuals to ask themselves about their own emergency preparation. 

The Houston mayor actually asked 2 former mayors to organize one of the shelters for Harvey. They'd had prior experience and were able to marshall what they needed quickly. 

Sep 02, 2017 02:31 PM #17
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

What a thoughtful post and wonderful ideas. Totally agree.

Sep 02, 2017 02:37 PM #18
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Jim Paulson - what a timely post!

I am sure this will help many people!

Sep 02, 2017 10:02 PM #19
Sham Reddy CRS
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Great thoughts!!!

Major corporations could have their experts in logistics, contracting, human resource management, etc., all be trained and ready to be called up in time of emergency.  I think we could do more good sometimes with better management than just by sending more money.

Sep 03, 2017 06:57 PM #20
Betsy N. Robinson - Serving the Sandhills, NC
Everything Pines Partners, LLC. - Whispering Pines, NC

Jim - I agree with "Sam".  You need to send your suggestions to FEMA and your Senators and Congressmen!  This will not be the last disaster felt by our country.  Thanks for being so insightful!

Sep 04, 2017 09:27 AM #21
Les & Sarah Oswald
Realty One Group - Eastvale, CA
Broker, Realtor and Investor

Great post! As we see more and more catastrophic events year after year, I think a logistic is essential to have in place before it affects a community.

Sep 04, 2017 12:04 PM #22
Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) - Boise, ID

Thanks for the support everyone.  I read a number of posts online about a grocery store chain in Texas call H-E-B that did an outstanding job of resource management in Huston.

They knew the storm was coming, so they began shipping bread and water in advance.  They focused on batteries, canned meat, toilet paper, etc., not flowers and ice cream.  They used helicpoters to flyer truck drivers over flooded areas to keep supplies moving.  They had critical items sent direct to their stores and bypassed their own warehouses.  Instead of making their typical 50 types of bread, they dropped back to three so they wouldn't have to shut down as often between types/styles. 

With that type of management, I would like to buy stock in H-E-B.  Unfortunately, I can't because they are the 12th largest private company in the US (according to Forbes) with revenue of $23 Billion.  

Sep 05, 2017 11:38 AM #23
Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) - Boise, ID

Watching the lines of people at the airports waiting to fly out of Florida made me wonder why FEMA and the Red Cross don't use the inbound planes as cargo planes to bring in emergency supplies like water, generators, batteries, canned food, etc.

Why is it they can't legally shut done the southbound lanes on the interstate road system to expedite getting people north and out of harms way?  There is almost no southbound traffic going into places like Florida, so why is it that they can't get fuel trucks and supply truck running 24/7 on the empty lanes?

I guess emergency management is kind of like real estate, in that common sense may not be that common.

Sep 08, 2017 09:40 AM #24
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

I like your thinking!  I'm from tornado alley in Kansas.  Not that long ago, my brother (a general contractor) tried to enter Joplin, MO after a tornado devastate the town.  They had road blocks to keep everyone out due to security issues.  My hard working, Civil Engineer General Contractor brother with a big heart was kept out of an area he was willing to dive into and help.  Argh.  Your thoughts are good ones!

Sep 10, 2017 09:45 PM #25
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