Hurricane Irene followed a winter of blizzards, a tornado, and an earthquake and served as a reminder that crises don’t always announce when they’re coming or how they’ll leave you. Tornado warnings require quick decisions. Our top priority was our safety. If our building was hit, because we have nine 4’X 7′ windows, we knew all our personal belongings would be destroyed. Our second highest priority is our data. While we have 3 backup drives, with one in NH which we rotate about every 2 months, the two in the condo are with the computers they’re backing up… hmmmm.. so another one is on the way which will be rotated in the safe deposit box weekly. We’re also using the Cloud more. Next was a look around to see if there were other things that are truly important to us like 125+ year old family jewelry, which has been passed down through generations. That needs to be in a convenient but more secure location. Next, we need an emergency kit to grab on the way out the door with water, first aid kit, a few snack bars, and a few clothes and we need to grab the bag with cellphones and chargers so we can communicate.
When Irene knocked out power to WFSB, our local CBS affiliate, we watched our TV screens go blank as they lost power and their generator didn’t work. They had moved out of downtown Hartford, which has an underground grid and never loses power and were apparently unprepared for the ramifications of that decision.
Our companies need sober and thoughtful reflection on how effective emergency plans are in protecting lives and the company itself in a crisis. We have seen vivid examples of what happened with companies who didn’t focus sufficiently on safety and especially the safety of their employees in a crisis and the fatalities from that lack of diligence.
This is a good time to review both our corporate and our personal crisis plans.