10 years later: are businesses prepared for natural disaster?

by | Aug 31, 2015 | Business Continuity

What’s been learned from Katrina? Are businesses prepared for natural disaster?

This week marks the 10th anniversary of when hurricane Katrina, devastated the Gulf Coast of the United States. The storm brought winds of 100 –140 miles per hour–and stretched over 400 miles wide. What’s more, Katrina is estimated to have caused more than $100 billion in damage, making it the costliest natural disaster of all time. We often see images of homes and displaced residents, but what about the commercial side? Were businesses prepared for natural disaster?

Unfortunately, for businesses, the impact was just as disastrous. It has been reported that approximately, 7,900 businesses in southeast Louisiana shut down between the second quarter of 2005 and the fourth quarter of 2006. While much of the devastation could not have been avoided, I wonder how many of the businesses today have a real Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan in place. It has been 10 years. Have businesses prepared for natural disaster any better than they did before?

Even after it happens to you, many don’t believe it can happen again and use that as an excuse to be lax. For example, in NY we experienced Superstorm Sandy – and are businesses prepared for natural disaster in NY today? Sadly, I don’t think so.

That said, planning for an unknown disaster can be daunting. Here are a few necessary steps to get your disaster recovery (or more positively put “business continuity”) plan in motion.

  • Establish the Disaster Recovery Team

Include a diverse group of individuals  from the organization. For example, a Disaster Recovery Team should include management, representatives from different departments as well as IT staff.

  • Build a DR Call Tree

Have contact information for each member of the Disaster Recovery Team: mobile and home phone numbers, address information and email must be included–social media contact information such as Facebook and Twitter addresses can be added to further aid the ease of communication during a crisis.

  • Name Off-Site Facilities for Recovery Efforts

If there is a disaster, your main facility may not be accessible. Therefore you must establish alternative “mini” hubs for employees to access. This could include a anything from a bunker to a warehouse off-site of your main facility. In addition, a transportation plan for key staff to get to and from these satellite facilities needs to be established. And, of course, these facilities must be able to access company networks and data remotely.

  • Communicate with Outside Entities

It is imperative to communicate with authorities, stakeholders, board members, vendors, and international or remote employees. Be sure to have communication methods other than phones or email–it should be noted that social media is quickly gaining popularity as a way to communicate when disaster strikes.

  • Ensure Data Backup & Recovery

Your data needs to be backed up and ready at all times. Should there be a disaster, a quick recovery of data and servers can keep your business up and running. Be sure to have an effective backup and recovery plan designed by an IT company who specializes in business continuity.

  • Practice, Adapt, Adjust

As your business grows and changes, you must adapt your disaster recovery plan accordingly. Practice scenarios with staff and continue to train employees on their responsibilities during and after an emergency.

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We’d love to offer advice to business owners about how technology can be used to minimize damage in the event of a disaster. Let us know if you would like to talk and establishing a business continuity plan for your business.

Tracy Rock is the Director of Marketing at Invenio IT. Tracy is responsible for all media-related initiatives as well as external communications—including, branding, public relations, promotions, advertising and social media. She is one busy lady and we are lucky to have her!