2013 Hurricane Season Has Already Started for Continuity Planners – Hurricane Sandy Lessons Experienced But Not Necessarily Learned

26 03 2013

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Surge destruction after Sandy’s landfall in the Northeast U.S. Photo: USAF

For most people the start of the Atlantic hurricane season is just over two months away.  But if you’re a continuity planner, the season is already well underway.  For far too many people, the lessons of hurricane Sandy – last year’s late-season storm that killed hundreds and caused severe damage in the Caribbean and along the U.S. Mid Atlantic before its devastating landfall just north of Atlantic City – weren’t learned so much as they were endured, responded to as best was possible and then promptly forgotten (and by some, forgotten very much on purpose and as quickly as possible).

Why?  Because it wasn’t supposed to happen and therefore “probably won’t happen again.” 

Sandy was a shock for a number of reasons.  The fact that it was so late in the season, that landfall occurred so far north on the U.S. East Coast, the sheer intensity and the ‘surprise’ storm surge.  And yet it shouldn’t have been such a surprising event considering that it had happened before.  Rare?  Sure.  Impossible?  Obviously not.  (Here are some sobering before/after images.)

One of the greatest needs was for proper housing of critical business response staff.  Why?  9 out of 10 companies (90%) unable to resume business operations within 5 days of a disaster are out of business within a year.  Nearly 4 out of 5 (78%) of businesses faced with a catastrophe without a contingency plan are out of business within 2 years.*  Effective, coordinated response is required so that each business has the best possible chance of surviving the setback, regardless of the cause, and response teams need comfortable and guaranteed housing in order to work efficiently.

Too often proper housing is overlooked because of the incorrect assumption that there will be plenty of rooms somewhere and somehow.  Usually, there won’t be unless they’re planned for and the greatest irony is that it’s one of the simplest, easiest, quickest and low-risk elements to put in place.

Plan now for the next Sandy.  Regardless of the size of your organization – or its geographical location –  you can check that one off the list starting with a single phone call and a series of short follow-ups.

Plan now because the season is already here.

* Original source unknown; cited in innumerable reports by AT&T, the SBA, etc.

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