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Archived Newsletters

Every month, we issue an electronic newsletter, eNews Monthly, to keep clients informed about Association items, spotlight clients, and answer frequently asked questions and let you know what is happening with the company.  Old issues of eNews Monthly are available on our Library page. 

September 2017
eNews Monthly
Recovering from Hurricane Harvey
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Our hearts are with all those that are being affected by the extraordinary weather conditions brought on by Hurricane Harvey. Many of our communities were hit hard with home flooding and evacuations. Many of our employees, families and friends have been displaced from their homes.

The devastation and flooding from Corpus Christi to Beaumont has shattered lives and records.  Since the arrival of Harvey to the Texas coast on August 25th, more than 50 inches of rain and 19 trillion gallons of water poured onto southeast Texas. That is like the entire contents of Lake Conroe being dumped on southeast Texas 135 times!  More than 30,000 people have had to move to Houston shelters with an untold number of additional people displaced.  The initial estimate of damages is $190 billion and could exceed the cost of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy combined.

We are doing our part to help our communities.  As soon as it was safe and possible to travel, our dedicated employees have visited each of our communities to assess the conditions of the common areas and facilities.  We have redirected many of our resources to this mission.  Greater Houston compliance inspections have been temporarily replaced with facility inspections and restoration efforts.

We’ve devoted this edition of the eNews Monthly to provide helpful information for associations and homeowners.  We will be right there with you as we look ahead to recovery.

Seminar Series
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Super Budgeting Webcast Postponed

We pushed back our Super Budgeting webcast to Thursday, September 28th at 6:00 p.m.  The October Board Orientation webcast will be held as scheduled on October 13th at 6:00 p.m.

Mosquito Control
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With the large amount of rainfall from Hurricane Harvey, the mosquito population will soon be on the rise. Here are a few tips you can take around your home to help decrease mosquitos.

  • Remove all standing water from your yard. 
  • Empty, drain, remove, cover or turn upside down things that can hold water. Throw out old tires, tin cans, bottles, jars, buckets, drums, and other containers or keep them upside down so no water can enter
  • Empty any small plastic wading pools weekly. Store indoors when not in use. Properly maintain your swimming pool and keep it covered so as not to collect water.  
  • Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets. Don’t let runoff water from your air conditioner collect in shady areas.
  • Change water and scrub vases holding flowers once a week - or grow cuttings in sand.
  • Scrub and change the water in bird baths weekly.
  • Empty and refill pets’ water pans daily.
  • Discard old tires or store them indoors.         
  • Don’t dump grass clippings, branches or other items in storm drains or ditches.
  • Fill holes in trees with sand or mortar.
Disaster Assistance
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Governor Abbott has issued a Disaster Proclamation for the following Texas counties: Aransas, Austin, Bee, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, Brazoria, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Harris, Jackson, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Liberty, Live Oak, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Waller, Wharton, and Wilson.

Federal Disaster Assistance

  • National Flood Insurance Program policyholders may call 1-800-621-3362 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (CDT) for general information, servicing of claims, or technical assistance. 
  • Texans who have sustained property damage from severe storms and flooding are urged to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Other Disaster Resources

  • To view the latest road closures across Texas, visit www.drivetexas.org or call  800-452-9292.
  • For a medical or functional emergency, call 211.
  • For information about shelters or help call 311 inside Houston and 211 outside Houston.
  • Call 911 for a life-threatening emergency.
  • Individuals who sustained damage within the State of Texas may register for FEMA assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or visiting www.fema.gov, www.ready.gov.
  • Download the FEMA app with emergency information by county for iPhone or Android.
  • To get help filing a personal insurance claim, call the Texas Department of Insurance’s Consumer Help Line: 800-252-3439 (Note: this is not an emergency number).
  • Click on Open Grocery Stores to find available shopping.
  • To get free wifi hotspots in the Houston area courtesy of XFINITY, connect to "xifinitywifi" and select "Not an XFINITY Internet Customer" on the sign in page to get started.
  • Click here for school closures.
Finding Towed Vehicles
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County and City Officials are working around the clock to clear the roads. That requires towing vehicles that ran into rising waters and had to be left.  If you are trying to locate your vehicle, the websites below will perform a search. You will need your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN#) or your License Plate Number.

Houston area resdients go to findmytowedcar.com.

San Antonio area residents can visit www.urtsa.com/findyourvehicle.html.

Dealing With a Flood Damaged Vehicle
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Dealing with vehicle flood damage can be a timely and costly process. Here are a 9 things you should know before you start dealing with a flood-damaged car. 

1. What are some of the first things I should do if I have a flood-damaged vehicle?

Before you do anything, it’s important to determine how much damage was done.

  • You should not try to start your car. Starting your car will cause more harm if water is in the engine.
  • Be sure to start drying out your car as soon as possible. Call a tow truck to help get your car back onto higher ground. Note: The transmission fluid, lube and oil may need draining before the car is towed.
  • Get your car to a mechanic to determine just how bad the flood damage is. Additionally, you’ll be able to find out more about electrical components.
  • Clean the inside of your car. Make sure you get rid of all the moisture and absorb all water. If you can, remove seats and seat cushions. Be sure to get professional advice to ensure that you don’t end up with mold, electrical issues and other problems.
  • After all of this has been done you can find out more about repair costs.

2. Is a flood-damaged car worth repairing?

It all depends on how much you are willing to spend on the car. Rule of thumb: if the water went past the floorboards and into the areas where the electronics are located, you may want to let the car go. Take the car to a specialist or a mechanic to determine whether or not it’s worth putting money towards fixing it.

3. How do I minimize the effects of water damage to my car?

Note: Make sure the battery is disconnected before you start working on your car.

  • Remove all standing water from your car. Try using a bucket or cup at first to get as much water out as possible.
  • Try using a wet or dry vacuum to remove the water from inside of your car.
  • Be sure to hang up any loose items, such as car mats etc.
  • As mentioned before, try removing the seats and console. These items will need to be removed in order to try and keep the floors from rusting.
  • Lift the carpet out of your car and hang it up to dry. Do your best to remove the carpet all at once, as opposed to pulling it up in pieces.
  • Be sure to wash out the carpeting and mats. You can use a garden hose or pressure washer.
  • Set up fans in your car to help speed up the drying process.
  • Once you’ve put everything back into your car, make sure you deodorize your car. This will help cut back on the bad smells. Try using baking soda, an air sponge and paper towels.

4. Will my insurance cover the costs?

The Texas Department of Insurance says you are covered for flood damage to your vehicle if you have comprehensive auto coverage. If you don’t have your policy, be sure to call your insurer.

5. Does a flood-damaged vehicle equate to my car being totaled?

The final decision will be made by your insurance company. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, the insurance company will look at your car’s actual cash value verses the cost of repairs. Your insurer will consider the car totaled if fixing it costs more than what it’s actually worth.

6. How do I file an insurance claim?

Get in touch with your insurance company as soon as you can. Just like any other claim, you’ll need to take pictures of the damage. Your company will then send an adjuster to evaluate the damages.

Note: Companies have to pay claims in a timely matter, according to Texas laws. The Texas Department of Insurance says deadlines can be extended for disasters.

7What should I do if my car floated away?

Reach out to the police department’s unclaimed autos department to find out if your vehicle has been located.

8. What do I do if I think my car is worth more than what my insurance company is willing to pay?

There are a couple of steps you should take if you think your car is worth more than what the insurer is telling you.

  • The Texas Department of Insurance suggests getting quotes from used car dealers.
  • Try looking at prices online for your car or similar cars.
  • Be sure to take note of any special features your car may have.
  • It never hurts to try and negotiate with the insurance company.

9. What happens if I owe more than the settlement?

It all depends on whether or not you have a gap policy. If you have a gap policy, it should cover the difference between what you owe and the settlement amount. If you don’t have a gap policy then you will have to take care of the remainder of the loan.

Replacing Lost or Damaged Documents
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  • SNAP Card (food stamps): call the Lonestar help desk toll-free at 1-800-777-7328.
  • Green Cards: Call 800-375-5283 or click here.
  • Birth and Death Certificates: Call 888-963-7111 or visit this website.
  • Texas Driver’s License: Call 512-424-2600 or click here.
  • Bank Checks, ATM/Debit Cards, or Safe Deposit Boxes: Call 877-275-3342 or click here.
  • Credit Cards: Contact your issuing institution: American Express (800-992-3404), Discover (800-347-2683), MasterCard (800-622-7747), or Visa (800-847-2911).
  • Credit Reports: Contact Equifax, Experian, or Transunion at 877-322-8228 or visit annualcreditreport.com
  • Social Security Card: Call 800-772-1213 or click here.
  • Fraud Alerts or a Credit Freeze: Call 877-438-4338 or click here.
  • Medicare Cards: Call 800-772-1213 or click here.
  • Passport: Call 202-955-0430 or 877-487-2778 or click here.
  • U.S. Savings Bonds: Call 800-722-2678 or 800-553-2663 or click here.
  • Tax Returns: Call 800-829-1040 or click here.
  • Military Records: Call 866-272-6272 or click here.
  • Vehicle Titles: Call 888-368-3689 or click here.
  • Replace a Texas Marriage Record or Certificate: visit this website for statewide information or visit this site for your issuing Clerk of Court.
  • Proof of Address/Residency: click here.
Tips for Hiring a Contractor
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For many homeowners, the recovery period is stressful. With the addition of possible contractor scams, the task of selecting the right contractor can become overwhelming. Listed below are several tips to assist when choosing a contractor.

1.    Confirm building permits. Know what kinds of permits are required before beginning your repair project. Your contractor should be responsible for applying for and acquiring the correct ones.

2.    Shop around. Get multiple bids to make sure you’re not getting charged too much. If the price given for a particular job sounds too good to be true, it could be a red flag. A very low bid could indicate that the contractor is willing to cut corners with material quantity and quality. Ask that each bid be broken down by the cost of materials, labor, profit margins and other expenses.

3.    Ask Questions. Do they take on projects of your size? Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks? How many other projects would they have going at the same time? How long have they worked with their subcontractors? The answers to these questions will reveal the company’s availability, reliability, how much attention they’ll be able to give your project and how smoothly the work will go.

4.    Research contractors and check reviews. Also, check with family members or friends who have had work completed, they may know of someone and can provide you great tips on if the person was reliable, friendly, finished their projects in a timely manner, were under budget, etc. You may also want to pick a contractor that specializes in the type of project you need.

5.    Door-to-Door Soliciting. Beware of contractors that go door-to-door soliciting your business. When selecting a contractor, use a local or nationally known contractor.

6.    Verify license and insurance. Check with the Texas Department of Insurance to confirm whether the contractor is licensed to run their business. The license shows that contractors are knowledgeable about building codes and processes. If your contractor does not have a license or insurance, you could be liable for injury or damage.

7.    Talk to your insurance adjuster. Some contractors have experience with working with insurance companies and that can speed up the process of getting the claims paid and repairs done.

8.    Meet in person. The right person for the job will be easy to communicate with. However do not let a personality fool you. Check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure the contractor does not have a history of disputes with clients.

9.    Get everything – especially estimates and contracts – in writing. Angie’s List recommends getting details on everything from detailed time frames, the total cost, and payment arrangements to your contractor’s license number, project description and more.

10.  Ask about liens. Under mechanic’s lien laws in some states, anyone who worked on or supplied materials to your project, but was not paid by the contractor, could hold you liable for the bill.  A lien waiver is a statement from the contractor affirming that all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work. If a contractor has a lien against him, it’s best to move on.

11.  Never pay in full. The BBB recommends staggering payments so the final installment is made at the time the job is completed. For large projects, a schedule usually starts with 10 percent at contract signing, three payments of 25 percent evenly spaced over the duration of the project and a check for the final 15 percent when you feel every item on the punch list has been completed. It’s also important to keep records of the transactions, so DO NOT pay with cash. If you have to write a check, make sure it’s written out to a company and not an individual.

12.  Ask for a receipt. Once the contractor completes the project, request a copy of a receipt, preferably one that says “Paid in Full,” so it’s indisputable that the contractor has completed the work asked. Also, do a final walkthrough to be sure everything has been completed before signing off on the renovation.

13.  Hold on to documents, even after work stops. Keep a copy of your contract in case you have to reference it in the future, or if any questions arise after the work is complete.

Additionally, the Greater Houston Builders Association is a great resource for information.  Visit their resource page here.  

How You Can Help
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For many of us not directly affected by Harvey, the desire to help our fellow Texans is fierce.  The response to calls for volunteers in shelters has been phenomenal!  But if you can’t visit a shelter, there are still ways to help.

Donate Money

One of the easiest things to do is provide financial support of established organizations that are at work on the scene.  It is important to research charity before you give to avoid scams and ensure that your donation is going to be used effectively.  Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org) vets nonprofits and hosts a webpage devoted to highly-rated organizations responding in the aftermath of this storm.  They have recommended the following organizations:

Providing Food and Supplies:

Providing Care for Displaced Pets:

Hurrican Harvey Relief Fund (established by Mayor Sylvestor Turner and administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation.

The American Red Cross accepts donations on its website and through text message. Text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10, charged through your phone bill.

For lists of other organizations, FEMA recommends donors visit the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster website.

Donate Time

The American Red Cross in Texas has asked people to volunteerat shelters.

The Salvation Army is also accepting volunteers for their shelters.

VolunteerMatch.Org allows you to search through listings of volunteer opportunities in your area and within your selected interest.  They currenlty have over 300 positions available for Texas.

The Animal Defense League of Texas and San Antonio Pets Alive and needs volunteers to foster pets that have been displaced.  

Donate Goods

Austin Der Relieisastf (ADR) said their Hope Family Thrift Store was accepting donations for new socks, underwear, cleaning supplies, blankets, toiletries and pillows.

Texas Diaper Bank reports that diapers are not provided by disaster relief agencies and asks people to donate diapers to families displaced by the storm.

Give the Gift of Life - Donate Blood

Curfews as of 8/31/17
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  • Houston - Midnight to 5 a.m.
  • Bellaire - Midnight to 5 a.m.        
  • Ft. Bend County, unincorporated areas - Midnight to 6 a.m.
  • West University Place - Midnight to 5 a.m.
  • Brazoria County - All areas of mandatory evacuation - Dusk to dawn
  • Dickinson - 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Friendswood - 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Pasadena - 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  • Pearland - 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Webster - 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Read Past Issues of eNews Monthly

Every month, we issue an electronic newsletter, eNews Monthly, to keep clients informed about Association items, spotlight clients, answer frequently asked questions and let you know what is happening with the company. Old issues of eNews Monthly are available on our Library page.