Kimco Culture

Bouncing back from Hurricane Sandy

Posted by: Chris Freeman Chris Freeman
on November 28, 2012

As a Long Island-based company, Kimco is among many organizations recovering in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. In addition, however, we’ve also been helping those affected get back on their feet, as one of Kimco’s company values is to be a steward in the communities it serves.

While we practice this value at all times, we make special efforts during disasters when greater aid is needed. In the case of Sandy, our team has opened their arms to help reach out to the neighborhoods where our headquarters and centers are located to assist in hurricane relief efforts. You can read more about our efforts towards the end of this post.

From a business perspective, one of our most pressing concerns is, naturally, the condition of our shopping centers. Fortunately, none of Kimco’s properties sustained major structural damage. Most of our efforts at our properties have been focused on clearing debris and minor repairs.

This result, however, is thanks to our solid disaster preparedness and disaster recovery plans, as well as our property managers, who guide the implementation of these plans. Our property managers are well-versed in preparing our properties for natural disasters, preventing severe consequences, and carrying out recovery efforts once a storm passes.

Here’s a drill down on how we prepared for Hurricane Sandy, and are now responding to the disaster. We wanted to write this not only to inform you of our approach, but also to share with other property managers the knowledge and experience that we’ve gained through years of hurricanes in our Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico portfolios.

Preparing for a disaster

Before Sandy struck the East Coast, we prepared our centers for the hurricane. As our peers know, landlords are generally responsible for our centers’ exteriors, roofs, and common areas, while tenants are responsible for the interior of their spaces and all fixtures, inventory, and other materials contained therein. That said, some of the most important preparation steps landlords should take include:

  • Clear roofs of any flying debris.
  • Relocate trash cans into vacant spaces.
  • Secure dumpsters.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Clear storm drains.
  • Ensure all contractors and first responders are geared up and ready to respond immediately following the storm. Some contractors might be strategically positioned just outside the storm zone so that they’re able to respond immediately following the event.
  • Conduct pre-storm conference calls with property management and insurance departments, as well as contractors, to review everyone’s role, both pre- and post-storm.
  • Purchase and deploy satellite phones to property managers and other head associates in the field to maintain communication in the event that cell service goes down.
  • Urge tenants to be in contact with insurance companies immediately in case of damage.

By taking these precautionary steps, landlords can help tenants get up and running quickly after a storm. In turn, this lets tenants begin serving their customers expediently, which is particularly important if customers rely on your tenants for items they need post-storm.

Recovering from a disaster

Once the disaster passes, landlords should launch a series of recovery efforts. These efforts should be guided by a team of first responders who understand their obligation and responsibility to get on-site as quickly as possible and start assessing the conditions in the field. Some of the most important steps this team should take include:

  • Assess the physical condition of each site and thoroughly document the situation for your insurance company with digital pictures and standard reports.
  • Determine if there are any safety issues in the common area for tenants and their shoppers, and resolve them immediately.
  • Ensure all electrical equipment serving the common areas and parking lot light poles were not compromised.
  • Set up portable lights in the parking lots at properties that don’t have electric supply.
  • Install generators where needed.
  • Bring your insurance team on-site as soon as possible — preferably within a few hours of the disaster — to begin assessing any damage and handling claims.

This recovery plan should be clear and well-understood by your property management team so they can begin executing it immediately and help facilitate tenants’ re-openings. In our case with Sandy, most of our centers and tenants are now running business as usual, and some were back up in less than a day.

THINKING INSIDE THE BOX: We've collected hundreds of boxes of hurricane relief supplies at our Palm Beach Gardens center

THINKING INSIDE THE BOX: We’ve collected hundreds of boxes of hurricane relief supplies at our Palm Beach Gardens center

Stepping up for relief efforts

As I mentioned earlier, Kimco associates have been showing their commitment to helping our local communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Kimco headquarters is running a drive to collect clothes, non-perishable foods, blankets, household cleaners, toiletries, gift cards, diapers, and formula for displaced and affected residents. All collected supplies will be distributed to local charities, including Island Harvest, Long Island Cares, the Interfaith Nutrition Network, and the American Red Cross.

JUST GETTING STARTED: The Karow family sets up a Hurricane Sandy donation table in front of J.C. Penney at Kimco's Pine Creek Shopping Center

JUST GETTING STARTED: The Karow family sets up a Hurricane Sandy donation table in front of J.C. Penney at Kimco’s Pine Creek Shopping Center

We’ve also donated the use of a vacant space at our Palm Beach Gardens center in West Palm Beach, Fla., to act as a warehouse for hurricane relief supplies.

Kimco associates and tenants have collected hundreds of boxes of items — including clothing, blankets, water, food, work gloves, work boots, pet food, cleaning supplies, paper products, baby items, flashlights, batteries, candles, and lighters — to be shipped to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Our communities from as far as California are also dedicating their time and resources to assist disaster victims. In Grass Valley, Calif., Beth Karow and her family started a “Socks for Sandy” initiative to collect socks and underwear for victims.

SOCKS OFF: The Karows collected 270 pairs of socks, 30 pieces of underwear, three pairs of gloves, and one hat for Hurricane Sandy victims

SOCKS OFF: The Karows collected 270 pairs of socks, 30 pieces of underwear, three pairs of gloves, and one hat for Hurricane Sandy victims

They set up a collection table in front of J.C. Penney at our Pine Creek Shopping Center, and have collected several boxes of undergarments to send to New Jersey residents.

Taken together, our disaster preparedness and disaster recovery plans, led by our property management team, have been crucial in mitigating Sandy’s damage to our centers and tenants. We hope our approach is helpful to you in the event of a future disaster.

We are also inspired to see our associates, tenants, and communities join hands to aid Sandy victims. We wish a safe and speedy recovery to everyone impacted by the hurricane.

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