Hurricane Sandy Lessons Learned

MHA spent a number of days working with its northeast clients in preparation for and after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the northeast.  In working with its clients, there were a number of key takeaways:

  1. Multiple events outside of the hurricane can and will impact your recovery.  Example; A backup site well outside the hurricane area loses network and or has a water main break.
  2. Employees must be prepared to be without any aid for at least two weeks.
  3. HR must have guidelines to deal with employee compensation issues due to employees being unable to come to work.
  4. Get your employees to automatic deposit; HR cannot always deliver checks in the event of a disaster.
  5. Backup data centers must be out of region in order to be accessible.  A major backup site provider almost lost its facility due to flooding.
  6. Fuel for backup generators was difficult to access and for them to get to specific sites.  Fuel was being brought in from outside the state.
  7. Do not assume you will have access to your facility even if it hasn’t been flooded.  If it has no power and no fire panel, you are not getting in unless you can work something out with the building owner.
  8. Crisis management calls must be limited to only the key people needed to strategically address issues.  Keep phones on mute and have attendees press a key to announce they have a question.
  9. DO NOT attempt to solve problems on the call.  Delegate, delegate, delegate.
  10. Keep good meeting minutes and action items.  Review at the beginning of each call.
  11. You can only work team members so long; you need backups.
  12. Your data center should be well prepared ahead of hurricane season; we were surprised that many do not have a pre, during and after the hurricane checklist.
  13. DO NOT count on critical employees to make it in; they may not be able to or have greater issues.  You need backups and or need to look at third party staffing.
  14. Emergency Notification Systems (ENS) are crucial but remember without power they can be less effective as you sending to devices that depend on electrical power.
  15. If you didn’t have a tested plan when the hurricane hit, you were at the mercy of the event.  Don’t try and write one now.
  16. Trying to determine what is critical to your business at time of event can be stressful and you will miss something critical.
  17. Add 30 to 50% more time for anything you are attempting to accomplish.  People are tired and if you have never done it before, good luck.
  18. Know your local emergency management group ahead of time.
  19. Employees must be prepared well in advance of this type of event.
  20. This will happen again.


Michael Herrera is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MHA. In his role, Michael provides global leadership to the entire set of industry practices and horizontal capabilities within MHA. Under his leadership, MHA has become a leading provider of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery services to organizations on a global level. He is also the founder of BCMMETRICS, a leading cloud based tool designed to assess business continuity compliance and residual risk. Michael is a well-known and sought after speaker on Business Continuity issues at local and national contingency planner chapter meetings and conferences. Prior to founding MHA, he was a Regional VP for Bank of America, where he was responsible for Business Continuity across the southwest region.

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