DISASTER RECOVERY PLANNING — EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
History will show 2005 to be the year that the United States government, particularly its Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), fell asleep at the helm during Hurricane Katrina.
More than six months after the storm that devastated the Gulf Coast, washing away hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses and taking 1,300 lives, former FEMA Director Michael Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff were among the poster children for the government’s utter failure to react to the tragedy. Blame has been abundant and, ultimately, the saga left a deep scar on the Bush Administration.
This tragic and sorry episode in American history has served as a prime example, on the grandest scale, of the consequences that result when measures are not put into place to mitigate losses and recuperate in short order following a disaster. How to fix what is broken and resume business as usual seems a basic concept to grasp, yet the crown prince nation of the free world allowed countless thousands of people to suffer more than necessary because of inadequate response to the hurricane. Anticipating the worst-case scenario, it seems, may be the best measure to take in formulating a disaster recovery plan for your business.
“The biggest mistake everybody, except us, made with Hurricane Wilma was believing it wouldn’t be a strong storm,” Chris Cavaretti, vice president with Stuart, FL-based Southeastern Printing, notes of the 2005 hurricane. “It was forecast to hit the west coast (of Florida) as a category two and might be downgraded to a category one or a tropical storm by the time it hit us.”
Except the hurricane slammed the Sunshine State as a category three, then garnered more strength through the Gulf Stream. How surprised were residents? Some of Cavaretti’s neighbors didn’t even put up storm shutters.