5 Things You Must Do Now to Prepare for This Year’s Record El Niño

It must seem strange to read that we’re experiencing record El Niño conditions which, if the scientists are correct, will lead to record rainfall later this year and next. Especially while California and the Southwest continue to suffer through the worst drought conditions on record.

But as recent articles in The New York Times, Wired and The Daily Mail, as well as briefings by NOAA attest, sea temperature readings in the Pacific Ocean and other tell-tale environmental factors have already exceeded those seen during 1997 El Niño event, which produced record rainfall the following winter.

If a record amount of rainfall is headed our way later this year, it will surely catch a lot of building owners and managers by surprise, just as it did during the winter of 1997/98, when every commercial roofer was deluged with a flood of roof repair requests, resulting in waiting times as long as three months, even for emergency services.

As building owners and managers, your job is to peer ahead, to be proactive and to protect your assets. Here are five things you can do now to prepare for the effects of this year’s record El Niño:

1. Get your roof inspected ASAP The best way to avoid a disaster is to prevent it. If record rainfall amounts materialize as predicted, you can’t do anything to prevent that, but you can make sure your roof is up to the task with a simple inspection. There are many things you can do yourself, but inspecting your roof, especially considering what’s said to be on the way, should be done by a professional. Inspections are free, and they’ll reveal often hidden dangers lurking in seams and flashings that are no longer watertight.Book the inspection now, while you have the chance.

2. Clear debris from your roof One of the easiest measures you can take now is to clear your roof of debris. It may look harmless, but rotting plant material can clog drains and eventually damage your roof.

3. Get your drainage systems inspected ASAP Your roof will take a beating during heavy rainfall, but your drainage system also needs to be up to the task. A professional roof inspection will cover rooftop drainage systems. But you should also have a drainage professional inspect the rest of your property, to ensure there are no potential blockages.

4. Walk the property Look for anything that could become a problem during flooding conditions and check tenant areas for vulnerability to leaks. If you communicate with your tenants through regular newsletters, make them aware of the expected El Niño conditions and effects, let them know you’re being proactive, but they also have a responsibility to minimize risks.

5. Review insurance coverages Everyone seems to be caught unaware when floods occur and you can buy coverage during the event. If you don’t have flood insurance, get it now. Have your insurance professional give your coverages a thorough review now to ensure you’re covered in case you experience a major leak or flood event. Be sure you’re also covered adequately in case a tenant experiences a loss due to a sudden leak. Replacement costs, equipment costs, etc. most likely have increased since you last girded your operation with proper insurance levels.