Natural Disasters: Real-Life Horror Films

Man backlit creepilyWith Halloween right around the corner, we’re entering the season for horror movies. Some moviegoers enjoy the rush of adrenaline that comes with watching a horror flick and leave the theater thoroughly entertained. However, while disasters can be thrilling on the silver screen, they’re not enjoyable in real life. Natural disasters can cause immense damage and generate hefty business costs.

Fortunately, with a little bit of warning and a lot of preparation, you can prepare your business for a disaster and recover efficiently. We’ve noticed that a few things that happen in horror movies also happen before real life disasters. Here are a few signs that a disaster is coming and how to prepare for it.

Your Bottom Line Gets Slashed


Small businesses, which are hit hardest by natural disasters, suffer a median income loss of $3,000 each day that operations are down. The loss of income combined with the recovery and repair expenses causes some business to close temporarily while recovering. Unfortunately, 25 percent of businesses that close after a disaster do not reopen, which means it’s essential to avoid closing for any length of time after a disaster.

The most important aspect of disaster recovery is to actually have a plan in place. Some companies underestimate the logistics required to recover successfully and quickly after a disaster strikes. This disorganization only adds chaos to the situation and could ultimately be the reason they fail. Create a comprehensive disaster recovery plan and test it regularly so you’re prepared to keep your business running after a disaster.

The Lights Flicker


When a natural disaster hits, electricity is often the first thing to go. Particularly with the aging North American energy infrastructure, power outages are increasingly common. In the event of a power outage at your office, most of your technology will be inoperative and business will cease. You might think your employees can simply work from home, but there are several logistical issues with that method, such as bandwidth, VPN concentrators, terminal server sessions and more.

Instead, prepare your business to overcome power outages by arranging an alternate workspace ahead of time, such as a fixed-site Business Recovery Center (BRC) or Mobile Recovery Center (MRC). The technology in both a BRC and an MRC can be preloaded with your company’s data. If your employees can be temporarily relocated, a BRC is your best option, as it’s a full office building. However, if employees need to stay put, an MRC can be delivered to any location you specify so you can continue work even from the parking lot of your existing building.

The Phone Lines Get Cut


High-speed wind can knock out telephone lines pretty quickly and easily. When a massive natural disaster strikes, it could be days (or even weeks, as was the case during the Hurricane Sandy aftermath) before communication lines are restored.

Contracting third-party network and voice call recovery services is the best way to give your business the resilience to recover from a communications outage. This will allow you to continue business and stay connected to your customers and partners during your disaster recovery efforts.

Don’t let these typical horror happenings put you out of business. To get started creating your plan, check out our business continuity plan checklist.

Reflections on Hurricane Sandy

Tomorrow marks two years since Hurricane Sandy first formed in the Caribbean before wreaking havoc on the East Coast.

With customers in Manhattan, we saw some of the aftermath firsthand.

We witnessed the damages that would ultimately land Sandy among the ranks of the worst natural disasters of 2012 (the damages amounted to $65 billion).

Utility trucks lining the streets of Union Square
Con Edison electrical services
preparing for Sandy in Union Square
Vehicles driving through pouring rain
East Williamsburg Brooklyn
during the beginning of Sandy
Dark, dimly lit street
14th Street in Manhattan after Sandy






















We heard about the challenges our clients faced: widespread power outages, downed voice circuits and inaccessible office space.

Throughout the affected areas’ recovery efforts, our clients — who, by the way, had comprehensive disaster recovery plans in place — and other companies have shown us that businesses are key to a community’s recovery, whether it’s donating money to relief efforts or selling critical services and providing jobs.

Was your business affected by Sandy? Share your experience with us in the comments.

Five Disasters Caused by Human Error

Man holding laptop looking horrifiedYou know that natural disasters can wreak havoc on your business. We’ve already seen plenty proof of that this year: the polar vortex in the Midwest and Southeast, the tornado outbreak in the South, the San Diego firestorm, etc.

Sometimes, though, disasters aren’t naturally occurring phenomena, but rather the unfortunate result of human error. That’s why it’s important for your business to be prepared for all types of events, regardless of the cause.

Over the years, employees’ mistakes have cost businesses downtime, reputational damage and monetary loss. Below are five notable examples.

Data for 19,000 Colorado Employees Goes Missing


Late in 2007, an employee of the state of Colorado misplaced a USB drive while transporting it between work sites. Unfortunately, the device contained nearly 19,000 current and former employees' Social Security numbers and possibly addresses. The employee was disciplined for not following protocol, and IT officials were tasked with the arduous process of determining whose information the USB drive contained so all 19,000 individuals could be notified.

Train Runs Stop Signal


In 2008, a Metrolink commuter train engineer caused a wreck considered "the nation’s deadliest rail disaster in 15 years" when he ran a stop signal in Los Angeles and collided with a freight train. The accident decimated the train and resulted in 25 deaths and 135 injuries. Investigators determined that the engineer had been texting while operating the train. His last text had been sent 22 seconds before the crash.

Kansas City Hotel Walkway Collapses


More than 1,000 partygoers at an event being held at Kansas City’s Hyatt Regency Hotel in 1981 became victims of an engineer team’s design flaw when a skywalk on the fourth floor collapsed. The structure dislodged other structures made of steel, concrete and glass, which resulted in the deaths of 114 people. The engineers were stripped of their licenses.

Incorrect Command Wipes Pixar Server


The creators of Pixar’s "Toy Story 2" nearly saw two months and hundreds of hours of hard work disappear when someone ran an incorrect command and erased the server where the movie’s files were stored. Thankfully, one of the company’s directors had a backup (the only one) stored on her computer at home, and the movie was saved.

Power Outage Affecting Millions of Customers


In 2011, an Arizona Power Service employee single-handedly caused a power outage affecting Arizona, Southern California and Mexico. The worker had been performing routine maintenance at a substation in Arizona, but instead triggered a cascade of outages affecting millions of customers across the power grid.

Human error is inevitable, but when it affects your business’s success, be sure you’re equipped to deal with the aftermath.

To start creating or re-evaluating your plan, check out our Business Continuity Plan Checklist.

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