Shifting from What to How: One Year After Harvey, Irma and Maria

August 31, 2018

As the dog days of summer arrive and the cicadas conduct their annual concert series, we are reminded once again of the threat of hurricanes. And while the 2018 season has been quieter than 2017 – with the exception of Hurricane Lane in the central Pacific – the worst may be yet to come: mid-August through mid-October is often the most critical timespan.

One year after the costliest Atlantic hurricane season in history, many communities and businesses are still recovering from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Thousands of Puerto Rican residents still lack power or clean water, and the rebuilding efforts are ongoing. Yet slowly but surely, things are getting back to normal – businesses have re-opened, homes are being rebuilt, civil engineers are developing revised recovery plans and emergency responders have better plans and training in place.

Today, we know more about what happens when hurricanes hit – massive flooding, storm surge, downed trees and powerlines, coastal erosion. And we know what impact this can have on cities and communities, from home displacement to economic disruption to interruptions in fuel delivery to power outages and wastewater system damage.

As businesses, we even know what to do to prepare for the next catastrophic event: test your systems, back up your data, batten down your communications systems and update all your plans. But it’s worth a refresher course on how to enact the best-laid plans so you’re ready to respond at a moment’s notice when the next Harvey, Irma or Maria strikes.

How you recover from a major catastrophe can be a bigger mystery than knowing when a catastrophe will occur, or what impact it may have.

For reference, at least four common questions arise every time a natural disaster bears down:

  • How should I prepare?
  • How long will I be impacted?
  • How quickly can I get back to business?
  • How can I speed up my recovery time?

The good news is, Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) has been preparing companies to face these types of events for 40 years. After more than 2,500 successful recoveries, Sungard AS knows a thing or two about helping enterprises get back to business safely and quickly.

If you already have a disaster recovery partner, good. You’ve taken the first and most important step in preparing for a catastrophe. Here is a step-by-step recovery list from Sungard AS that can guide you on how to enact your plans once a pending disaster is staring you in the face:

1) Who ya gonna call? It seems like an easy first-step, yet having the correct number handy – and making sure it is up to date – is critical. At Sungard AS, there are different numbers for North America (866-722-1313), the UK, and other international locations. Knowing which hotline to call first can make those critical first few seconds more effective. Typically, this is your first action after a disaster, and can take up to 30 seconds to complete. Don’t waste any time – get those numbers updated and have them at-the-ready for ANYONE involved in your DR efforts.

2) Declare your disaster. After that first call, it’s time to give all the pertinent information to your recovery manager at Sungard AS. This usually consists of the reason or nature of the event; the location of your impacted site; your contract or ID numbers; what configurations of equipment will be needed, according to your contract; and any other services you think you may need.

3) It’s a control thing. This may be the hardest part for some business managers – giving up control for a short time. But this is when Sungard AS will shine. And save your skin. At this point in your recovery timeline, your recovery manager is reviewing your allocations, creating your declaration letter, discussing shipping timelines and costs that may be incurred, discussing your set-up and ensuring the proper teams are engaged.

4) On the move. If your equipment is mobile and you want it shipped, Sungard AS will prepare to send it to you. You can install it yourself, or have one of our engineers assist you. If you contract for a mobile workgroup or mobile datacenter, we will engage that team to start moving the trucks and having discussions with you.

For this, you will need a large enough area to accommodate the mobile unit and a diesel fuel provider on stand-by. Note that other businesses near your location may be doing the same thing, so have alternate sites and suppliers in mind.

A few things that can speed this process along include keeping your disaster declaration authorization/invocation list updated; keeping your DR contract up to date; testing your disaster recovery readiness at least once a year; and setting calendar reminders every six months to update your list of contacts.

2017 was a year for the natural disaster record books, but with every event, we learn more about what to do – and how to do it – to prepare for the next event. Use this handy Disaster Declaration Guide from Sungard AS to help update your plans.

Resilience is all about anticipating risk, mitigating its impact and moving forward with confidence. If you’re able to adapt well in the face of adversity, you can be sure your critical applications and data are always available, and your people – your greatest asset – are safe. That’s why emergency planning is so important. Do it now before it’s too late.

Photo by Victor Larracuente on Unsplash

Other Posts You Might Be Interested In