HDC_Disaster_Blog_2814_1200x600Being in real estate puts you at the center of the action. From knowing where to get the best cup of coffee to knowing who to trust when your garage door breaks, real estate agents are great sources for answers. But what about when your clients have a bigger problem than a caffeine headache or a door they can’t open? In a recent interview, California real estate agent Timothy Toye discussed what the days and weeks following the third worst forest fire in California history were like as well as how his role in real estate shifted to meet his community’s needs.

➲ Play Podcast: Natural Disaster – an Agent Survival Story | Timothy Toye | Secrets Unplugged

What started as a normal day for Toye shifted in a moment. “I had an appointment at 2:30 to meet with a seller of mine,” Toye explained. “At 2:00, the seller called and said, ‘don’t come over. We’re getting evacuated.’”

It wasn’t long before Toye’s office was evacuated, too. Luckily, most of his data was stored in the cloud. All he had to do was pack up the computers and leave. Toye stressed that when deciding what to bring with you, “it depends on how urgent it is; when you’re asked to evacuate, it’s obviously urgent. The main thing is to preserve human life. Everything else comes second from that.”

Toye was evacuated for about two weeks and noted that “everybody immediately had a shared concern…’what’s happening to the area, what’s happening to my house, your house, our neighbor’s houses?’” People were in the dark about whether or not their home or business still existed.

“Just coming back in and passing on whatever information and helping people, at that point it was not about the business anymore. It was more about just helping people on a very human level to deal with a dramatic natural event that had all kinds of difficult financial and emotional and personal consequences for people. So that was kind of the beginning of it.”

Toye got involved and let people know “what areas were hit and which weren’t,” when critical services like electricity were restored in the area, and generally passed crucial information to those who were still evacuated. Those who lost their homes were able to start communicating with their insurance companies and move forward.

When faced with disaster, the key is to “be adaptable…it was a moment just to respond…be smart, be intelligent, be compassionate.” As a real estate agent, you should “participate with your community because when you’re in need, you want a community around you. Be there for people.”

Help your clients be prepared in case disaster strikes your community. We’ve created an Emergency Preparedness Checklist for you to share with your clients. Just add your contact information to the checklist and share it with your friends, family, leads, contacts, and clients so they can be ready to hunker down or evacuate at a moment’s notice.