Business Continuity Lessons from Hurricane Sandy

5 Days After Hurricane Sandy… still eerily quiet.

Hurricane Sandy, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, and quite possibly the second most costly Atlantic hurricane, made an impact not only on history books, but on businesses as well. It tested and challenged many business continuity and disaster recovery plans for a multitude of businesses in New Jersey, New York, and 22 other states. Are your business continuity plans as good as they are on paper they are printed on? Hurricane Sandy tested businesses with “The Perfect Storm”.

As we enter the second week after Hurricane Sandy, some of the statistics are staggering.

  • Estimated Price Tag for damage and lost business from Hurricane Sandy: $52.4+ Billion Dollars
  • Hurricane Sandy affected states as far south as Florida and as far North as Maine. It also affected states as far west as Michigan and Wisconsin.
  • The storm surge flooded much of lower Manhattan in New York City. The damage included flooded streets, tunnels, subway lines and massive disruptions in power in and around the New York Metropolitan.
  • Over seven Million People were without power.
  • Seven major airports were shut down (John F. Kennedy International, LaGuardia Airport, Newark International, and Philadelphia International, Washington-Dulles International, Baltimore-Washington International and Reagan Airport), stranding millions of passengers around the globe.
  • The last time New York Stock Exchange closed for two consecutive days for weather related reasons was in 1884.
  • At least five data centers in New York were impacted directly by Hurricane Sandy related to flooding taking critical power generators offline after power was lost in lower Manhattan.
  • Big names websites such as Gawker, Gizmodo, The Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed experienced website outages after experiencing flooding in a data center.
  • Verizon Communications had facilities shut down in downtown Manhattan, shutting down phone and Internet service.
  • Google’s New York offices reported outages and backup power failed.

As the news came rolling by our screens at Net Force, we were amazed that operations such as Google and data centers who have stellar business continuity plans were blown away by “The Perfect Storm”. By no means all data centers failed as some data centers weathered Sandy better than others (pardon the pun).

It does raise questions for your businesses as well. Even if you were not affected directly by Hurricane Sandy, I would encourage yourself to ask these questions regardless.

  • What are your Business Continuity plans and what tools or services do you have in place for an event like Hurricane Sandy?
  • How well and how much time did you spend in preparing your businesses?
  • How do your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery tools perform?
  • If your tools failed, how and why did they fail?
  • When was the last drill or test or your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery plans? Did your tools fail during the drill?
  • What were those results from those drills or tests?
  • What unexpected things happened during the drill or during Hurricane Sandy that changed your impressions on what Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery encompass?
  • God forbid another event like this happen again, but what would do differently to plan and execute that plan?

 

If businesses like Google can be affected, what does it say about your business continuity and disaster recovery plans?

 

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