Business Continuity - Prepare for the Expected

Santa is saying "I'm out-a-here... now that it's over again, I'm dropping in on Guam, that tropical island below, for some well deserved R&R".

My brother who is a professor at the University of Guam, sent me that picture in a Christmas card, and after a more recent email from him, the synapse occurred which triggered this article.

To put things in perspective, let me quote a few excerpts from his email: "I got a connection to the uog9 node, but I'm not sure we're reconnected to the world yet, but I'm trying to contact you! Well, we could see it coming for almost a week on the satellite weather map, but I thought it would be a Great Big Nothing..."

"Well, I was wrong. It turned out to be Super-typhoon Pongsona (Who dreams up these names)? Guam (faraway island of earthquakes, typhoons, and coconuts) is always in what is called Tropical Storm or Typhoon Condition Four--a tropical storm or typhoon can strike within 72 hours at any time. Condition Three means a tropical storm is heading in our general direction within 48 hours. Condition Two means a storm will strike within 24 hours. Prepare, get ready, put up your typhoon shutters or plywood, stock up on gas, food, water, candles, matches, other supplies. Condition One means we're in a tropical storm or typhoon condition right now..."

"Well, University employees prepared our buildings on Thurs. and Fri., and Condition Two was declared by Governor Carl Gutierrez, on Sat., when we shut down just after 12:00 noon--final exams were supposed to take place next week, students are working on their research papers, etc., and we were supposed to be open extended hours..."

"How could anyone know that we were going to be hit by the worst storm in recent memory? This was definitely the worst typhoon I've experienced in my 15 years here. I do not have typhoon shutters in the condo which I have rented for going-on-ten years, so I prepare by closing the windows secure with newspaper caulking, newspapers under the doors and windows to sop up any leakage, etc. I did have the presence of mind to fill up my car gas tank on Sat. p.m., coming back from the mall. Well none of this did any good this time. The typhoon went right over the northern side of Guam. By then, all communications, such as TV, the Internet, radio and e-mail are gone. So you don't really have current info on where the storm is going. I think in central Guam, where UOG and my apt. are located, we got the "tail end" of the storm, whose "eye" passed over the island further north around Andersen Air Force Base on the northern tip..."

"When my living room windows began rattling and shimmying, I thought they might "blow" so I retreated to my spare bedroom, my "junk room," where I had an old futon and pillow to lie on. It was raining sideways so hard, that I could not see my car parked in the parking lot outside my living room windows. When the water began streaming down the walls, through the cracks in the windows, faster than I could "bail" it out, I retreated to the bathroom, my only room without a window. I abandoned bailing out under the windows with a towel and a bucket. The bathroom floor tiles make it an inch or so higher than the rest of the apt., so it didn't flood. I lay down with my futon, pillow and a jacket, with my feet propped holding the door shut, and hoping that when it howled really badly (for about six hours!), it wouldn't burst open! I was saying my prayers that my life would be spared! I heard it going crash, bang, boom, rocking and rolling, out in my kitchen and living room, area but was too afraid to out to check out the deal. When there was a slight lull, I peeked out and saw that my two kitchen windows had blown IN, and one of my living room windows had blown out, leaving my apartment to the typhoon elements for hours, for the rest of the storm..."

"During a lull, my next-door neighbor, a radio deejay, came over shining his flashlight in the empty space that used to be my kitchen windows, calling out to see if I was OK. I wanted to get a box of chocolates out of the fridge anyway, I was ready for a snack, so I came out to see him briefly, even though it was still raining and nasty. He said that at the radio station, they heard that the storm was clocked at 210 mph, before their instruments blew away! He said that his kitchen windows had blown in, too, but not broken, so he put them back into place and asked if I wanted him to help me put mine back in place, too. I said no, since it was dark in my kitchen, I couldn't seen what was what, and I didn't want to risk the wind storm blowing the window out or breaking it on me while I was trying to fix it during the storm. I returned to my dark bathroom for the night. The thin, old futon on the tiles wasn't really very comfortable, so I don't believe I really ever slept with the wind howling, but when I tossed and turned over, I remember hitting the toilet with one arm! This took place on Sun. night, Dec. 8, to the wee hours of Mon., Dec. 9..."

"When day broke on Mon., I saw that my apt. was a disaster area. One kitchen window and frame broke, filling my kitchen sinks and counter with broken glass (not safety glass). One kitchen window with frame blew in but didn't break. One living room window busted out of its frame, showering the car below with glass shards and bits. Next door, the deejay had two living room windows with frames blow out, smashing the car roof parked below and shattering its windshield! My kitchen cupboard doors flapped to then fro in the wind until most of them broke off and flew here and there. The Christmas cards and papers I had been working on on the kitchen table were here and there, all wet. Bottles, cans and jars from the kitchen cupboards had flown around and landed wherever, some smashing, some not. There was about one inch of water in the entryway, kitchen, living room and one bedroom. Various typhoon debris, such as leaves, palm fronds, dirt, branches, nails and screws, looked like haphazard Christmas decorations put up by Mother Nature..."

"There was no power of course, that had shut down the evening before, as the storm developed, in precaution. There was no running water or cable TV and no radio station was on the air. But my phone worked, even though it was dripping with water, I got a dial tone, but no tones when I pushed the buttons. So I dried it off and got a dial tone later on in the day on Mon., when I used it to call our sister Marcia to give her a brief report, with lots of static and crackling (not too different from the usual on Guam!)..."

"I'm fine, no injuries, just "all shook up!". As for UOG, the library took on some water, and one instructional media window door blew out, and the telephone room door on the back of the library blew off. Minor water came down the staircase from the roof. The relatively new "CE" (Communication and English) and "HSS" (Humanities and Social Sciences) lost parts of their peaked roofs. Lots of trees, power poles and power lines are down. I haven't toured all the damage yet. I've only gone around the block in three days, afraid to drive my car, which works, too far, for fear of puncturing a tire or worse..."

"Planes are starting to land and take off again, airlines ought to be back on schedule within a day or two. No cargo or mail deliveries yet..."

"At my condo complex, flying trees and storm-surge-driven corrugated roofing metal totaled out numerous cars, some of them flipped over, tires flattened, windows smashed, fancy Mercedes and BMW car panels dented and scratched. I am fortunate that my car is fine. I have it parked with the hood and trunk flaps opened and windows rolled down, to dry it out. The sun is out and it's mostly clear today..."

"Yesterday, I spent all day cleaning up, sopping up water, picking through the glass shards at my apt. Just try cleaning up glass bits in the kitchen sinks and typhoon debris around the living room without running water! My landlady, who suffered even worse damage at her apt. than I did, had some of her workers come by yesterday p.m. and replace my broken windows. She said I was "top priority" as her longest tenant (nine years last Labor Day weekend)..."

"A week ago or so, I bought my ticket to fly to Thailand for the holidays, and it's safe hidden in my office. I'm definitely going, flying out of this mess in just over a week, on Sat., Dec. 21 for four weeks of vegging out at "The Beach" in Thailand, etc. When I return to Guam on Sat., Jan 18, just in time for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monday Holiday, and the spring semester which begins on Tues., Dec. 21, I anticipate that most or all of Guam will have its running water back, and some of the villages will have electric power, maybe even cable TV restored. My home phone is dried out by now and working. My office phone has a dial tone also. I'm looking forward to a shower after a couple days without!--even a cold one would do..."

All for now--know that I'm OK--more later--"

Well, it took a long time (thanks to my brother being a wee bit verbose) to get to the point! What does this have to do with me / us?

We're smart enough by now to know, especially since 9/11/2001, that there will never again be anything unexpected... EXPECT IT... AND, plan accordingly.

In today's competitive business world, what was once considered a good thing to do, is now an essential strategy for keeping your business in-business and your image looking polished in the eyes of your customers. Business Continuity Planning is the key phrase that describes the ideas, strategies, and procedures that will give you that warm, fuzzy-feeling, that your business will rise to see another day after a disruption.

Today, business as usual means high-speed Internet connections and complicated IT applications. So, an extended outage could be caused by a natural disaster, a civil disturbance, a disgruntled employee, a computer virus, a cut in a main power or fiber optic line, etc., etc.

Businesses that plan to be in business for the long haul know the value of Business Continuity Planning, EXPECT the UNEXPECTED, and plan for IT.