Disaster Preparedness Lessons: Three Lessons To Help You Weather Any Storm
With headquarters in Houston, Texas, right on the Gulf Coast, we at Link have to be prepared for hurricane season and have worked hard to develop a good disaster plan. Whether it be a hurricane or any other natural disaster, it is good to be prepared, and surprisingly, being prepared could even lead to new business opportunities. Here are some lessons that we have learned that could help you be better prepared should your area go through a disaster situation.
Lesson #1: Keep Your Servers Safe
When Hurricane Ike blew through Houston in 2008, it taught us some lessons we won’t soon forget. While our support center weathered the storm pretty well, our Houston area field offices went without power, phone or Internet for days. Two of them relocated temporarily to neighborhoods with power and two others were able to partially power back up with generators and get online with wireless broadband cards. But it all would have been for nothing if we hadn’t kept our databases and other business functions high and dry on our server in Dallas. As it was, our Houston offices hardly skipped a beat. Whether its on your own servers or—sometimes better yet—in the cloud, you need to make your digital assets as invulnerable as possible.
Lesson #2: Have a Plan B
This is a lesson taught to us by another 2008 hurricane, Gustav, a category 2 storm that raked the Louisiana coast and left the area around our Baton Rouge office struggling for about a week.
No stranger to natural disasters after Hurricane Katrina, office manager Marcie Boudreaux had put her team in “hurricane mode” almost a full week before the hurricane actually came through. The Baton Rouge office staff contacted their customers and field staff to touch base and see if there were any special needs as the storm approached. They got their files in order, elevated their computer equipment and even distributed contraflow plans to assist their staff and clients who would be evacuating the area. They also printed out lists of available field staff, just in case they lost access to the database.
When Hurricane Gustav hit on Monday, the office – and most of the city – was without power. Although the office was equipped with the recommended wireless internet cards, the Baton Rouge office was not able to get back online with its data system until the following Friday. Marcie and her team kept business going by making personal visits to their clients to check on them. They were able to fulfill their staffing needs by utilizing the lists of available field staff they had printed prior to the storm.
Lesson #3: Take Care of Your Customers’ Disasters
Amid the chaos of Gustav, Marcie discovered even the darkest storm clouds can be lined in silver. “The sense of community after the storm was really something to see”, Marcie recalls. By their own show of compassion and caring, the Baton Rouge office even won a new customer. “We have a couch at our office. Since a local business owner was without power, we offered him a place to rest, get cool and have fresh water. The customer was so grateful that he has been placing orders with us ever since.”