New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

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BOARD OPERATIONS

HOW CO-OP/CONDO BOARDS OPERATE

A CALL FOR IDEAS: What Can Boards Do to Prepare for Power Outages?

Rosemary O'Brien in Board Operations on November 16, 2012

5 W. 14th Street, Union Square, Manhattan

Nov. 16, 2012

For example, in advance of the loss of power, our co-op at 5 West 14th Street in Manhattan shut down our laundry room and certain lights to try to ease the burden on Con Ed’s systems.  When lights started to flicker before the outage, our doormen were on alert to be sure to tell people to get out of the elevator ASAP so that no one got stuck in the elevator.
 
We told people how they might be able to charge their cell phone using their laptop computer. We reminded people that if they had a landline phone that did not require an electric outlet, that their landline phone service was still working. We encouraged people to use them to preserve their cell battery.

Let There Be Flashlights
 
Our live-in superintendant did plenty of pre-storm prep, laying in supplies of batteries, flashlights and light sticks that he sourced at hardware and big box stores. We used them to light the stairwells and basement hallways where staff would have to deal with garbage.

We encouraged shareholders who planned to stay in their apartments to fill their bathtubs, pots and other empty containers with water for cooking and flushing.  We reminded people of Mayor Koch’s 1980s drought mantra: If it’s yellow, let it mellow ... if it's brown, flush it down. And we told people how it was necessary to fill their toilet tank, not just the bowl. 
 
When people started to empty the rancid contents of their refrigerators into inadequate bags and send them down the garbage chute, we gave alternate directions.

Every apartment should have an emergency kit. Every building should have an emergency plan. 
 
I am sure there were plenty of great inventive ideas that surfaced. I, for one, would like to hear them.
 
Editor's note: Use the "Comments" section below to offer your ideas. We'll organize and condense them into a checklist available to all condominium and co-op boards.

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