Hurricane Isaac Flood Safety Tips

When Hurricane Isaac made landfall on the Gulf Coast this week, it brought heavy rain and flooding, leaving many neighborhoods underwater. As the floodwaters recede and evacuees prepare to return home, it’s important to be aware of some tips for staying safe in the flood’s aftermath.

Avoid Driving Through Flooded Areas


As little as six inches of moving water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

Be Aware of Sanitation Hazards


Floodwaters may contain overflow from sewage systems and runoff from industrial waste products. Use caution when handling items exposed to floodwaters.

Have Supplies Ready


FEMA recommends keeping a supply of nonperishable food that will last for three to 14 days. Also have a gallon of water per person per day available.

Read more FEMA flood safety tips here.

Promote Workplace Safety This Labor Day

More than 100 years ago, in June 1894, Labor Day was approved as an official holiday to celebrate the American trade and labor organizations who have contributed to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. As a result of the efforts of those involved in the labor movement, we have safe workplaces, work fair hours and receive adequate wages.

Whether you’re laboring or relaxing this Labor Day, take a moment to reflect on what this celebration means for American workers. Be sure to do your part to protect your employees’ work environment by following these important tips:

  • Make sure your facility meets The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s most frequently cited standards.
  • Establish a business continuity plan that’s tailored to the specific needs of your industry and educate your employees on what to do during a disaster.
  • Review your safety guidelines each year to evaluate if any modifications need to be made.

For more safety tips, click here.

Have a safe Labor Day!

What to Do When… There’s a Wildfire

This year, there have been approximately 40,000 wildfires that burned 4 million acres of land, threatening precious wildlife, homes, businesses and lives. In July 2012 alone, there were 9,869 wildfires. They often begin unnoticed and spread rapidly, igniting anything in their path.

Here are a few tips for reducing the risk of your home or business being destroyed by a wildfire:

  • Assemble an emergency kit and create a family communication or business continuity plan.
  • When building your home or business, design it with fire safety in mind.
  • Ensure that your business data is backed up and that you can restore the data.
  • Close all indoor and outdoor openings, connect water hoses and fill anything you can with water.
  • Gather all important documents and belongings and put them in the car for quick departure.
  • Move flammable items and furniture to the center of your home or business facility and turn on all the lights. 

Wildfires, unfortunately, are going to happen, and as with any disaster, the key to surviving them is to be prepared with a plan, both for your home and your business.

For more information on wildfires please visit www.ready.gov/wildfires, www.firewise.org/ and www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/fire/.

We’re Preparing for Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane Isaac is brewing in the Gulf, and its path is frighteningly similar to Hurricane Katrina’s path seven years ago. As the storm approaches, we’re positioning our resources to be ready to come to the aid of our customers on the Gulf Coast. We’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

We want to make sure our customers are prepared as well. Keep our declaration number handy, review your list of authorized declaration representatives and make sure you have an up-to-date copy of the schedule of resources your company has access to.

If your business is affected by Isaac or you suspect that it will be, have your company’s authorized representative give us a call as soon as possible. Our support staff is standing by, and we’re ready to help you get up and running again.

Five Disaster Recovery Lessons from Hurricane Andrew

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, a category 5 storm that swept a
25-mile-wide path of destruction across Florida’s Miami-Dade county. Andrew left behind $26.5 billion worth of damage. In all, 82,000 businesses were affected.

While some businesses were forced to close, Frank Gromling had the foresight to create an emergency management plan and was able to keep his business afloat in Hurricane Andrew’s wake. Gromling shares the story of his business’s recovery in a recent article on FlaglerLive.com.

From it, we’ve gleaned five important disaster recovery lessons to bear in mind for your
own business.

Designate a command center


“I wanted a meeting to implement our recovery plans, but had no place to hold it.”

Like Gromling’s business, your company may have a recovery plan in place, but it’s important that your business’s management designate a command center where, after a disaster, they can start implementing next actions specific to the disaster scenario.

Locate an alternate facility ahead of time.


“I knew we had to re-establish a Dade County office and realized that hundreds of other businesses struck by the storm also would be seeking space.”

During a large-scale disaster, any available office space will be immediately snatched up by businesses looking for a facility in which they can resume their business operations. To bypass resource shortages, contract a hot site facility or mobile office space in advance with a reliable business continuity provider.

Have a plan for giving your employees access to cash.


“About half of my people said they could not come back to work until they settled their personal situations. I knew this would be weeks or months. They needed housing, food, water, clothing, gasoline, and medicines. I realized that, most of all, they needed cash. With the electrical grid destroyed, banks and credit cards were useless in our half of Dade County.”

Access to cash is vital after a disaster, especially if there is an extended power outage, rendering electronic payments useless. Obtaining cash can be a difficult process if banks and credit unions are unavailable. Keeping a supply of cash on-hand to help employees stabilize their own recovery will increase the likelihood that they will return to work more quickly, ready to aid in the restoration of your business.

If you manage a bank branch or credit union, it is essential that your business continuity plan incorporate an alternate facility (see above) in the event that your primary facility is damaged by a disaster. The sooner your branch is able to reopen, the less likely your customers are to take their business to another branch. Depending on the level of damage to the area, some mobile recovery solutions may even allow your branch to reopen on your premises.

Obtain access to hardware for data restorations.


“Fortunately, our company had a policy of recording two copies of our computer files each day, with both disks going home, one with the office manager and one with me. From my international security experience with businesses and governments in high risk countries, I knew the value of having important records off-site. The only problem we had now was there were no computers onto which we could re-store the data. Ours were strewn about the office, rained on, and had ceiling mush blown into them.”

We can’t reiterate enough the importance of backing up data and storing it off-site. However, if you have no equipment to restore the data on, your backups are effectively useless to you.

Determine the type (computers, servers, hard drives, etc.) and quantity of hardware you would require in a disaster scenario. Either purchase the equipment or locate a provider that can deliver the equipment to you within your recovery time objective in the event of a disaster. Often, it’s more cost-effective to simply contract equipment from a disaster recovery provider for use upon a disaster declaration.

Have a plan.


“We had survived and, together, we were not just rebuilding our company but actually building a new company that would be better in every way for ourselves and for our customers. That is the major lesson we learned from Hurricane Andrew. That, and the importance of having a plan.”

The quote above says it all. Have a plan. Period.

Twenty years after Hurricane Andrew’s devastating landfall, Gromling has presented a timely reminder that business continuity planning can mean the survival of a business. To read the full article, click here.

Part 1 — $22 Million Worth of Reasons Why It Pays to Comply with Regulatory Organizations

Due to budget pressures, many executives break into a cold sweat at the mention of regulatory compliance. For many organizations, cutting corners takes precedence over meeting the requirements imposed by regulatory authorities such as the U.S. Office for Civil Rights’ HIPAA Privacy and Security rules and the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC).

But if you think following regulations can be costly, try breaking them. As Bloomberg Businessweek reported, a recent blunder by financial giant Morgan Stanley earned the firm a $5 million fine in June 2012 from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and a $1.75 million fine from the CME and the Chicago Board of Trade to resolve claims over
record-keeping violations. It seems you can’t afford not to comply with regulations.

To protect your business from hefty financial penalties and damage to its reputation, you must ensure that your business complies with every aspect of regulatory requirements, whether it be protecting financial or health records, implementing a business continuity plan or providing clients adequate access to their personal information.

Not convinced? In this five-part series, we’ll be sharing more than $22 million worth of real-life examples where companies made the mistake of attempting to fly under the radar and met with regulatory run-ins that resulted in costly fines.

Capital Market Services — $75,000


New York-based Capital Market Services, a futures commission merchant, was slammed with a $75,000 fine from the National Futures Association (NFA) in May 2011.

The reason? After a series of 11 system outages in less than a year, Capital Market had failed to notify either its customers or the NFA of the power failures. As a result, customers were either kicked out of the online system or were unable to log in at all, leaving them unable to create or manage orders.

Under the NFA, Capital Market had been required to have a business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place that allowed for the possibility of a system outage due to activity that exceeded normal peak volume. Had Capital Market employed redundant systems, it could have resolved the issue of the system outages.

As it turned out, Capital Market had at one time employed both a primary and backup facility. However, Capital Market dropped the ball in November 2009, when it severed ties with its primary facility and began using its backup facility as its primary facility. To cut costs, Capital Market did not secure another backup location.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Year of Misfortune: Top 12 Billion-Dollar U.S. Disasters

On March 2 and 3, citizens of nine states in the Midwest and Southeast faced what could only be described as a swarm of tornadoes. Over two days 131 tornadoes were reported. They caused $1.5 billion in damages and were the first of what may be yet another year of billion-dollar disasters.

Many will recall that during 2011 billion-dollar disasters seemed to come a dime a dozen. Twelve different disasters amassed a toll of over $1 billion apiece, with a grand total of over $50 billion. The number of billion-dollar disasters in 2011 broke the previous record from 2008 by four disasters. According to a United Nations report, the frequency of mass weather calamities is “virtually certain” to continue.

Check out Bloomberg’s recap of 2011 disaster misfortune here.

What steps have you taken to prepare your business for disaster?

When was the last time you tested the RESTORE part of your data backup and restore process?

Making a disaster recovery plan may be a headache for IT techs, but it becomes a nightmare when data that was assumed to be secure failed to back up in the first place.

Backup failures take place far too often but can be avoided by testing the data restoration process before disaster strikes. When deciding how often to test the restoration process, the determining factor is the volume of data.

For individual files, a weekly restoration test is wise. On a monthly basis, it is prudent to test large sections of data. Finally, a full system restoration test should be conducted twice a year. By testing at multiple stages, you can uncover and solve any unforeseen issues before they threaten to destroy your business.

To learn more about our data backup and recovery solutions, visit www.rentsysrecovery.com.