Be Prepared…Is Your Disaster Recovery Plan Current?

I’ve been in Vermont this week at the Norwich University MSIA residency week.
It was storming and treacherous with tornadoes when I left my Iowa home on Sunday morning, and it took me two days to get to Vermont because of flight cancellations. Now I’m sitting at the Burlington, VT airport wondering if I will be able to make it home tonight, where Iowa is still experiencing horrific weather, and has sadly seen the tragedy of a tornado, last night, killing four and wounding close to fifty boy scouts at a wilderness camp there.

It is truly a horrible situation; heart-wrenchingly sad…and makes me want to get home to my own young sons as soon as possible.
It is still stormy weather in Iowa and surrounding states, and according to the forecast it looks to be the same for the next several days.
The flooding reminds me a lot of the floods of 1993, only they truly seem more severe this time. Which seems almost unimagineable considering how much damage they did in 1993. I was working at the time at Principal Financial Group, and the floods struck in early July.
It was so hot that summer. We had recently tested a newly updated comprehensive corporate-wide disaster recovery and business continuity plan (DR/BCP) with all the DR/BCP team members throughout the organization, which turned out to be a great benefit while we were responding to having the electricity supply from the electric company completely shut off, along with all the water supply completely shut off, for basically the rest of the summer. We did not have any water in any of our numerous buildings in downtown Des Moines, and we could only work on the bottom three floors of the buildings because of the excessive heat…it was well into the 90’s and 100’s inside and outside of the buildings…and also the fire department advised we could not have people above the third floor levels because of fire escape dangers. Thankfully we had generators to provide minimum electricity to keep business going, and we were creative with how water was supplied (from the rooftop backyard pools filled with water) to the computer cooling system. I could probably write an entire book just about the hundreds of porta-potties lining the streets of downtown Des Moines! I think a lot of us got hooked on using Purell hand sanitizer during those months…
When was the last time you reviewed and updated your DR/BCP? I don’t care where you live, disasters can strike, even if they never have in your location before. Be prepared! Make sure your plan not only covers the business continuity issues, but more importantly, make sure all human safety issues are clearly and comprehensively addressed.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to create and test plans BEFORE tragedy strikes; it really will minimize the damage when an actual disaster occurs. Otherwise the stress of the crisis situation will cause panic and bad, possibly deadly, decisions.

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