Over the last few months the United States has unfortunately been devastated by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. These deadly hurricanes have left parts of our country severely damaged, and caused wreckage that will likely take months if not years to repair. We are pleased that our sponsored properties in Deerfield Beach, Fla., Houston and Pasadena, Texas were spared from the worst the storms had to offer. As the recovery efforts in Texas and Florida continue, we reached out to our staff in those buildings to find out how they were able to mitigate the storm’s awful impact on the residents of their buildings.
Below you will find the manager/administrator’s thoughts regarding preparation before the hurricane, and how that work translated to the residents being as comfortable as possible during the storm.
-B'nai B'rith Center for Senior Services Team
By Phyllis Davis the Management Agent (BHC Property Management, LLC) for Pasadena Interfaith Manor and Goldberg B’nai B’rith Towers (Houston) in Texas
Pasadena Interfaith Manor (175 units) and Goldberg B’nai B’rith Towers (302 units) are both
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidized Section 202 apartment properties that house low-income elderly and mobility impaired residents. These properties are located in Houston and Pasadena, Texas and, as everyone now knows, were in the path of Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane.
Most emergencies cannot be anticipated but some areas of the country are more prone to hurricanes and one of those areas is certainly this South Houston/Pasadena Gulf area. The City of Houston has difficulties with managing water in a normal rain storm; therefore, we know in a confident certainty that water will be our main problem when faced with a hurricane.
Preparation for any disaster is a continuous training subject with our staff and residents; therefore, each year as we enter the hurricane season, a Hurricane Preparedness meeting is held with the residents. All residents are given a reminder list of supplies they need to have on-hand during this period; such as, making sure they keep their prescriptions filled, enough food to last them several days in case they can’t get out to the grocery store and their emergency supply bag that has a flashlight and other essentials.
In the case of Hurricane Harvey, staff began visiting each resident three days before the hurricane was to reach land to find out if they were leaving the property. If they were leaving the property, we had a form that we filled out indicating where they were going and contact numbers where they could be reached. During Hurricane Harvey we had several households/apartments that were leaving to go with family. In the situation of Hurricane Harvey it was not a mandatory evacuation and many residents stayed.
These properties have two generators that power one elevator, emergency lighting and electricity on the first floor where residents with oxygen can have power and people can charge mobile devices.
At Pasadena Interfaith Manor, the manager knew what to do and was very responsible; fortunately we did not have any flooding or significant damage within the building. Goldberg Towers has two project monitors who live on-site for after hour emergencies and the manager also stayed on-site during Hurricane Harvey as it stalled over the Houston area. Our staff is excellent, they know what to do and they did it. At both buildings we credit training on a regular ongoing basis along with planning as being our success in times of emergencies. Overall, being responsible stewards of housing in general, prepares us the best we can in the event we have an emergency and weather that has many unexpected variables.
After the hurricane our residents expressed their gratitude for the great work of our staff:
From the bottom of my heart I would like to express my gratitude to our manager Angie. I'm sure that I'm not only speaking for myself, but also for all our residents. During the harrowing and dangerous days of Hurricane Harvey, Angie was with us at Goldberg Towers every day and night. She worked tirelessly together with other staff—Andretta, Jason and Marcy, always keeping calm, supporting us physically and emotionally. May God bless her! Many thanks to other Goldberg Towers staff as well.
With sincere gratitude and love,
Sofiya Konstantinovskaya, resident of Goldberg Towers
We, the residents of Goldberg B’nai B’rith Towers, would like to express our enormous gratitude to Angie Futch, the real hostess of our big home. All the days during the hurricane, she stayed in house, providing help to the more vulnerable tenants. She organized the work of the staff on duty with perfection and her stay inspired confidence for our well-being. We really want her to be recognized in the city and also by her superiors. We wish her health and prosperity.
With respect and appreciation,
Liliya & Yuriy Chertkov
Ivetta Karash, residents of Goldberg Towers
By James Lynch Administrator (SPM Property Management) for B’nai B’rith Apartments in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
At B’nai B’rith Apartments in Deerfield Beach, Fla. we have a hurricane preparedness plan. Every year in June we always have our Annual Resident Emergency Disaster Preparedness Meeting— where I have a speaker from our local senior center come speak to our residents along with my service coordinators and myself. At the meeting we hand out tons of literature in several languages. I also make sure that our Disaster Preparedness Manual is hand delivered to every resident on June 1 every year. During the hurricane months there is always literature posted on the boards and reminders of how to prepare in case there is a hurricane approaching. I also make sure that all three buildings have all the hurricane supplies replenished every June. We check to make sure we have fresh batteries, check flashlights, water, first aid kits, coolers, rope, plywood, and gas cans are full with gas if needed.
If a Hurricane is approaching we send out notices to residents again with the five day plan, we also ask them to fill out a family Disaster Plan in case they decide to evacuate to let us know where they are after the storm.
During Hurricane Irma I had two maintenance staff members onsite 24/7 for two days, before, during and after the hurricane. One of my social workers and I were also available for our residents before and right after the storm. All three of our buildings do have generators and luckily we did not have to use them for Irma; and we do have an ice maker on generator in case people need ice. The tenant association council members and volunteers had coffee and food readily available for all the residents in our Community Room where many residents like to congregate during the storm so they are not alone. The first floor not only has hurricane impact windows but additional hurricane shutters around the entire room so they feel really safe there. It really is a group effort. We were very lucky this year and I believe very well prepared.
After the hurricane, resident Carole Ross said, “It wasn’t as if I wasn’t scared at times, especially with the tornado alerts, but I was in the best possible place thanks to the staff at B’nai B’rith.”
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