When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City on October 29, 2012, people all over the city were faced with incredible, unprecedented challenges—and they lasted for a long time. For moving companies, one thing that came out of this experience was a keen understanding of how to manage logistics of moving days for thousands of customers in the middle of a widespread emergency. The timing of the hurricane coincided with a peak moving time—end of month—and left thousands of New York City moving customers and companies scrambling. Now nearly five years later, with historic hurricanes Harvey and Irma wreaking havoc on metropolitan areas, and other natural disasters looming everywhere across the country, we have compiled our best tips on how to manage moving when disaster strikes.
Stay Calm, You Are Not Alone
The initial timing of Hurricane Sandy at the very end of the month left NYC tenants in fear of losing apartments, deposits and moving times. After all, nothing moves with greater urgency than a New Yorker with a security deposit and a lease agreement. But when it comes to a widespread disaster, such as in a hurricane, moving is simply not an option. Keeping a clear head in an emergency is critical—so start by remembering that if you can’t move out on time, everyone else probably can’t either. Everything will be “on hold” until the world can get the wheels spinning again.
If you’re planning to move your home during a hurricane, you have two homes to think about when it comes to damage control. You may be not able to do anything about your future home before taking possession—but if it sustains significant damage, you may either change your interest in taking possession or have to find temporary living quarters until you can get in to your new home. And take care to protect your current home—you don’t want to worry about losing a security deposit or having a buyer back out because you didn’t want to take extra steps to board windows or protect the structure where possible.
Communicate Early and Often
When you first get word of an impending hurricane, call your moving company and present and future landlords to discuss options. If it is the off season or a slow period, they may be able to reschedule your moving day to get you settled in your new place before the hurricane arrives. Even if they can’t, they can tell you how they plan to communicate changes and what their action plan is in case of an emergency. Will there be a queue for rescheduling move dates or will your landlord allow you to move in early if the apartment is available? These are all things you should ask about. And find out where you can get real-time updates during the hurricane, such as on social media or by subscribing to alerts.
Check Your Insurance Coverage
Insurance is critical here—and you’ll want to make sure you’ve covered for what you expect, especially if you have any items in storage or out of your control during the hurricane. This includes finding out what the storage company will replace if their facility is flooded or what happens if the moving truck is damaged with your possessions on board. Get everything documented clearly for your protection and peace of mind.
Keep Your Valuables with You At All Times
This is a common emergency preparedness tip as well as a common moving day tip—making it even more important when disaster coincidences with moving day. Make sure you have all critical documents together and easily accessible. Insurance policies, birth certificates, titles of ownership, passports, checkbooks, health cards and social security numbers, etc. should all be a part of your emergency package. This way you have all your most important information safe and protected from any possible issue.