Learning From Sandy

Learning From Sandy

November 8

You’ve probably read the articles and perused the photos of the devastation caused by super storm Sandy. CNN Money reports that the economic impact may be nearly $50 billion dollars and that at least 180 deaths have occurred as a result of this massive storm. Our hearts go out to those affected by the tragedy.

Disasters like Sandy are the reason we prepare. They make us glad we took the time to create a disaster recovery plan, or reinforce our motivations to prepare a plan for the future.

Adam Rogers, senior editor at Wired magazine points out, however, that people have the tendency to prepare for the next one as though the last one will repeat itself. He suggests that we should be less concerned with planning for a disaster that just happened and think more about what the next one could look like.

Following Sandy, New Jersey had a magnitude 2.0 earthquake; miniscule in comparison to Sandy or to the larger and more devastating 7.0 earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti in 2010, but it’s still a reminder that preparing for a specific kind of disaster might leave you unprepared for the one that really comes.

As our recent white paper How to Prepare for Disaster explains, no two disasters are the same. A disaster is anything that disrupts your regular business operations, which realistically can be almost anything. Luckily, there is a lot we can learn by looking at various disasters.

Using the knowledge gained from disasters like Sandy, we can determine which parts of our plan are most effective, and which parts need improvement; even those who were not affected by the storm directly can analyze the effects of such a calamity and decide how their plan would stand up against it. As Rogers at Wired mentioned, while we tend to think about the disaster that just happened though no disaster will ever be exactly like the one victims experienced last week and no two disasters are identical so structuring your backup and disaster recovery plan around one specific disaster or type of disaster may not be the most effective.

The point is, we simply can’t predict what type of disaster will affect us. Certainly every region has its big hitters as we saw in New York and New Jersey, but the big ones aren’t the only ones around. We saw the same thing in Salt Lake City in 1999 when an F2 tornado tore through the city killing one, injuring over a hundred and causing more than $170 million dollars in damage. A disaster isn’t always what we prepare for, so we must work hard to prepare for anything, even things that seem most unlikely.