1948 years ago in AD 63 an earthquake in southern Italy by the gulf of Naples seriously damaged the ancient city of Pompeii causing an undetermined number of deaths and spread out destruction, but the locals went to work rebuilding in the same spot until they were buried by the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano 16 years later in AD 79.
Galveston TX Hurricanes
Average Brushed or hit every 2.94 years Average Direct hit every 8.63 years
The Great Storm of 1900 - Sep 8th 1900 - Pop: 42,000 residents Category 4 @ 135 mph -Great loss of life between 6,000 and 12,000 individuals – officially 8,000
The 1915 Storm, August 17th, Category 4 @ 135 mph 42 people dead in the Galveston area
$60 - 1915 million dollars in damage
Ike Sep 13th 2008 - The third most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States Final landfall in Galveston Texas as a strong cat 2 with cat 5 equivalent storm surge winds extended 120 miles from the center.
Blamed for at least 195 deaths – 74 in Haiti and 112 in the USA 300 still missing. - Damages estimated at 24 billion (2008) US Dollars
Resulted in the largest evacuation in the state of Texas history and the largest search and rescue operation in US history
Chernobyl, An Experiment Gone Wrong
On Saturday, April 26th, 1986 at 1:23 am, one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded. Ironically, the experiment consisted in testing how the power plant would respond in the event of an accident. The operators at the plant wanted to bring down the power output of the reactor to 25%, but over-confidence, poor training and poor knowledge of how a reactor works caused them to overdo it, and they ended up bringing down the power output to 1%. When they then tried to bring it up to 25%, the reactor overheated and exploded causing the worst nuclear accident in history.
Government agencies and the World Health Organization (WHO) have risen to the challenge doing an excellent job in preparing for the H1N1 flu outbreak, raising awareness, prompting private businesses and governments to act, and their preventive actions have limited the spread of the virus worldwide.
Depending on your personal situation, the H1N1 pandemic has been a disaster if you have lost a loved one, a friend, or been infected, a nonevent if you have not been affected at all.
Every single day the news have been pounding the issues of vaccinations, work disruption, prevention, absenteeism and the like, creating a pandemic planning fatigue and making it viewed as another overstated, overreacted event, not what was predicted would happen during the 2009 flu season. Maybe the H1N1 flu has not peaked yet and the worst may be in store but although there has been widespread infection the pandemic has not been so severe or lethal, more like any regular flu season.
The good news is that preparing for the H1N1 flu has gotten communities, businesses owners and senior management to understand the urgency of the threat and the importance of planning while it has raised unprecedented awareness about contingency planning.
There are benefits to be gained from the effort of having developed a pandemic plan, among others:
Employee participation and awareness
Working from home arrangements
Planning for continuity of core business functions
Don’t let H1N1 Planning go to waste
The H1N1 pandemic preparations made executive management of small and medium size business (SMBs) recognized that the risk is real and of sufficient seriousness to realize the importance of preparedness and long term resilience of their organizations, most have implemented plans for their core business functions and systems The important lesson to be learned is that these planning efforts should not be ignored or discontinued once the buzz of H1N1 pandemic becomes a thing of the past.
During the Y2K event companies spent millions of dollars, time and planning efforts trying to avert a major disaster that proved to be a nonevent. Away went all the years of planning and documentation that became obsolete and forgotten the moment we found out that computers booted properly and the Y2K bug had been conquered, no to be mentioned again until the realization sank in for many organizations that the process and documentation should have been kept up to date for business continuity and disaster recovery planning purposes.
Regardless of whether you are now weathering the H1N1 storm or have been untouched by the pandemic, the planning efforts, education and experience gained as well as the planning documents developed should be kept alive and maintained for future eventualities as they may prove to be the most important project that can save your company of an unforeseen future event.
So, what should you do now?
Monitor the situation including absences
Maintain awareness. Don’t let your guard down, the flu season is not over and we may have not seen it peak yet.
Learn from your H1N1 preparedness experience in your organization. The education gained is invaluable.
Keep your employees engaged and informed and use the planning experience and documentation to develop a business continuity and disaster program for your organization.
Although you may not have developed a full blown business continuity and disaster recovery plan, you have addressed core elements of your business, have documented the plan and should be maintained not go to waste.
Expect the unexpected. Keep your plans up to date. The next step may be to acquire planning software to assist in the maintenance of your plans using the H1N1 information and fully develop a realistic BCP/DR plan.
Perform a gap analysis to evaluate your BCP/DR posture.
All businesses provide products and services that others depend on and have a special responsibility to their customers and community to plan for continued operations in emergencies and disasters and should plan accordingly.
Roberto O. Ramirez, President
Survival Insights LLC