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Keeping a cool head when all around you are losing theirs.

When an East 62nd Street townhouse blew up last summer, New Yorkers ran terror-stricken into the streets. As smoke billowed from the wreckage, no one knew what had caused the explosion or if anyone had been hurt.

Gumley Haft, one of New York's most respected residential management companies, was among the first responders on the scene. The Cumberland House, a 100unit cooperative next door to the townhouse had taken a beating from the explosion, with a rain of bricks from the townhouse and water from the NYFD pouring into the lower floors and underground parking garage.

Harry Smith, Gumley Haft's director of management, was on the scene less than thirty minutes after the explosion and immediately set to work. With terrorism on everyone's mind, an explosion in the middle of Manhattan is not going to be taken lightly, and a host of emergency teams, including the NYPD, NYFD, FBI and the Office of Emergency Services, among others, were already on the scene.

Fortunately for the residents of The Cumberland House, Gumley Haft's experienced management team knew what to do.

A Command Center was set up to disseminate information and locate all building residents; "Rally Points" were designated where evacuees could rest in safety and come to grips with the situation.

Since the resident manager's apartment was on fire and his computer destroyed, crucial information was gathered from Gumley Haft's office where back-up records were safely stored.

Once the building was evacuated and all residents and their pets accounted for, the work of remediation and restoration began immediately. The owner of the townhouse lost his life. But fortunately, no one in The Cumberland was hurt and damage to the building was kept to a minimum by quick response to the emergency. Repairs were made and life went back to normal for the building's residents.

Just three months later, on October 11, New Yorkers were again sent running into the streets when a small plane crashed into the 40th floor of the Belaire Condominium on 72nd Street. Smoke and flames billowed out of the brick wall where the plane lay lodged in one owner's living room. A severed gas line caused a raging fire and sent a cascade of brick, mortar, glass and airplane parts crashing to the sidewalk.

Tragically, Yankees pitcher Corey Lidle and his flight instructor, who were in the plane, perished in the crash. Once again, it was a Gumley Haft building, and chief executive officer Dan Wollman was on the scene immediately.

The chances of one management firm facing two such drastic emergencies in a three-month period, or ever, are extremely slim. But in the face of these crises, Gumley Haft's professionals knew how to work with each other, the emergency and investigative teams on the site, and the building residents to avoid panic, prevent injury and keep loss to a minimum. They also worked around the clock to remediate the damage from fire and flooding and to restore the buildings as quickly as possible.

"You can never fully prepare for emergencies of this magnitude. However, by instituting basic emergency management procedures, the property can be ready when disaster strikes."

Dan Wollman and Harry Smith shared their experiences at a recent luncheon sponsored by the New York Association of Realty Managers (NYARM). For more information about these stories or for a pamphlet on what to do in case of an emergency in your building, contact Gumley Haft at 212-371-2525.
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Comment:Keeping a cool head when all around you are losing theirs.
Author:Smith, Harry
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 6, 2007
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