Shopping Centers Today

SEP 2018

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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closed for at least a week aer Harvey, and much longer in some cases. l Do not wait to buy a generator. Retailers purchasing their first portable genera- tors just before last year's storm season oen suffered problems with ventilation, maintenance, sizing and lack of diesel fuel, all considerations that a vendor can easily address in the off season, says Short. Disaster specialists have relation- ships with fuel providers that can ensure priority deliveries in such crises. l Permanently installed backup electrical generators with automatic power-transfer switches might make more sense for many retailers in areas prone to black- outs and storms, says Short. l Data-preservation plans to save business servers and files were overlooked far too oen in last season's hurricanes, says Short. l Plan for cell towers to fail, says Short. One solution is to purchase two-way radios such as those used by emer- gency responders and have an ample supply of batteries on hand, or else spend the money on satellite phones. "You as a business owner have to have some of these con- versations with yourself when it's business as usual, then take time to figure all this out," Short said. "It's an invest- ment in your business." Several Houston-area retailers enlisted crisis-abatement services well before the storm, including HEB, which used Houston-based microgrid firm Enchanted Rock to supply on-site generators and underground natural-gas pipelines to keep the lights on, despite widespread flooding and power outages. Austin-based Riskpulse, a risk-predictive supply-chain-analytics firm, briefed 800 retail stores in high-risk zones last year on when to contact suppliers to delay shipments and when to close stores and safely reopen them. at helped retailers determine which staff members were most likely to need to evacuate, which ones could stay, and which had special needs, according to Riskpulse. In Florida the inexact nature of storm-modeling was rein- forced last year. At the last minute, Hurricane Irma took an unexpected turn westward, from the Miami region toward the Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Naples and Tampa areas. On average, initial storm-track forecasting can err by as much as 80 miles when a storm is 45 miles out, according to the National Hurricane Center. Since the southern portion of the Florida peninsula is only about 50 miles wide, anyone on either coast is at risk when a hurricane approaches. Crisis communications are especially challenging in Florida, because employees live in scattered flood zones, and many cannot make it to work aer a storm, says Mi- chael Vullis, a principal with Avison Young Real Estate Management Services. "e best way to overcome this is to establish a volunteer team prior to a weather event to attend to assets once the dust settles," he said. "Safety is always the first priority, but speed in addressing immediate needs is a close second, once conditions are deemed stable." Also important is maintaining an employee call list and establishing a hotline with recorded messages. To expedite insurance claims, Vullis suggests that prop- erty owners maintain up-to-date photo records of their real estate assets to establish a baseline for their prestorm condition. Another administrative lesson is that casualty provisions in leases "really do matter," according to Ken- neth Katz, a principal of Houston-based retail brokerage and development firm Baker Katz. ose determine rent abatements during reconstruction, which party pays for which repairs, and whether a lease can be terminated if the space is destroyed, he says. "ese have significant financial implications and can impact the speed at which a property owner can recover from significant loss," said Katz. Sachse Construction, which rebuilt several Puerto Rico retail buildings aer Maria, says companies that strongly leverage their insurance partnerships post-di- saster tend to fare better in recovery. "Work with them as soon as possible to come up with a custom strategy, hire a reputable industrial [environmental] hygienist to represent you, and hire a trusted construction team that understands the unique reconstruction requirements of your property," advised Noah Wolfson, the Detroit-based firm's director of program management. ough the current hurricane season may be milder than last year's, catastrophic storms are "more of the norm com- ing into the future," said Jose E. Sánchez, deputy director of research and development with the U.S. Army Corps of En- gineers, at a Harvard forum. "We as a world need to come together with better solutions and be better prepared." n S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 8 / S C T 41 30 DAYS waiting period for new National Flood Insurance Program policies

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