The past few weeks have brought natural disasters to several parts of the U.S.—from wildfires in Maui to a tropical storm in Southern California and a hurricane in Florida’s Big Bend. While the southeast surveys damage from Hurricane Idalia this week, the wide-ranging disasters should remind community association leaders to evaluate their disaster preparations.

In Southern California, the unexpected encounter with tropical storm Hilary left a lasting impact on communities when it made landfall on Aug. 20—the first time a tropical system has come to the region since 1939, according to Spectrum News. As the storm gained strength in the eastern Pacific Ocean and charted an unusual trajectory, local authorities and emergency services quickly recognized the potential danger. Evacuation orders were issued, and residents were urged to prepare emergency kits to ensure their safety.

Hilary brought powerful winds and heavy rain, leading to downed trees and power lines, road closures, mudslides, and coastal erosion. The excessive rainfall led to flooding in various neighborhoods.

CAI Coachella Valley Chapter President Julie Balbini describes the damage to a community association management company in Cathedral City: “Personalized Property Management cannot even get to their offices, as the streets are filled with mud, as is their parking lot. They are still trying to assess what damage was done to the inside of their offices, but that will likely be slowed down by the 3 feet of mud filling what used to be their parking lot.” A local business partner, Frazier Pest Control, also was heavily impacted, with an office submerged in mud and no access to computers or power lines.

Balbini adds that the Panorama North neighborhood, also in Cathedral City, was covered in up to 5 feet of mud and dealing with numerous sinkholes. “This is the area where first responders were conducting rescues of people trapped in homes, vehicles, and a train because of the massive mud flow that came through that area,” Balbini says.

The impact of Hilary serves as a reminder of the importance of re-evaluating disaster preparations and plans.

CAI continues to monitor how community associations in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas were impacted by Hurricane Idalia this week.

>>September is national preparedness month. Access CAI’s disaster resources.

  • Hazel Siff

    Hazel Siff is associate editor at CAI. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara's communication department and worked as a student journalist at both UC Santa Barbara and Santa Monica College. Hazel has worked in print media, on multiple podcasts, and on a YouTube show. Originally from Western Massachusetts, she has spent the last several years living in Southern California.

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