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Tornado Aftermath

The cell phone video told the story.

Even in the dark images, you could see bare roofs and torn shingles sent to me by Patrick Fox, board member of a 314-resident condo development called ‘The Boulders at Katy Trail.’  The video included the wind and lightning. Even through my cell phone, the distant rumbling was ominous that Friday evening in May.

Soon after I looked at the video, Patrick and I were talking.

“Patrick, we have to get tarps up as soon as it is safe,” I said as we discussed the next steps. Insurance carriers expect property owners to take reasonable steps to mitigate damage. “I will be on site in the morning, and I’ll get in touch with the insurance company tonight.”

By 6 o’clock the following morning, the extensive damage was easy to see. As tarps were stretched over damaged shingles, Patrick, other board members, and the management team toured the development. Beyond the obvious damage to roofs and siding, several units had fallen ceilings where water had coursed through the damaged roof. ‘The Boulders at Katy Trail’ have several lovely water features throughout the landscape. The tornado had sloshed out the water leaving the pumps running dry.

As residents emerged, board member Debbie Jackson, said, “This was the first tornado I’ve ever been through, and the ordeal was pretty scary. It is reassuring to see all of the residents pull together in their efforts to clean up and check on their neighbors.”

Indeed they had. Neighbors were checking on one another, picking up loose shingles, broken balcony rails and tree limbs. They were clearing the sidewalks, parking lots, and lawns. By late morning, the clubhouse was turned into an ad-hoc command center.

I joined board members and the management team on hand to inform residents what to expect as contractors began to arrive on the property. We warned them to be wary of “storm chasers” who swoop in after a storm and do shoddy work. Residents were encouraged to check with us before engaging a contractor.

By 3 P.M., we were able to organize a residents’ meeting. After serious property damage, it is understandable that folks’ nerves were a bit frazzled. Fortunately, the condo association board at ‘The Boulders at Katy Trail’ and I had spoken about what to do in the event of a storm or fire. Despite the rush, we even had an agenda for the meeting, and we took the opportunity to assure residents that things would be put right.

Today, ‘The Boulders at Katy Trail’ are sporting new roofs, repaired rails, and trimmed trees. Even the fountains are back to lending their peaceful pitter patter to the community environment. The members and management team demonstrated exactly how to cope with a disaster, and I am proud to be their insurance partner.

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