Hurricane Harvey’s Devastation Highlights the Critical Need for Disaster Preparation and Safe Damage Assessment
Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast last Friday night as a Category 4 storm with winds exceeding 130 miles per hour. On Sunday, Harvey’s path of destruction spread inland, killing at least five people and flooding the Houston metropolitan area with record-breaking rains — exceeding 30 inches and more in some areas. That’s because Harvey, now downgraded to a tropical storm, stalled and returned to the Gulf of Mexico while still flooding the area with rain.
Thousands of search and rescue operations are still ongoing, meaning it could take weeks or even months before a full assessment of the economic damage can be made. But all indications are that Hurricane Harvey is dealing a tremendous blow to the fourth-largest city in the United States, with thousands of homes and businesses destroyed and lasting repercussions for months and years to come.
Below, CMIT Solutions has compiled two important checklists: one for anyone feeling the impact of Harvey and wanting to assess flood damage to an office or IT equipment, and one for those who may not be affected at this time, but at a more effective level Planning hope for natural disasters in the future.
Why is such a list necessary? Because more than 2/3 of American small businesses still don’t have a written disaster recovery plan. That’s according to the Small Business Indicator, a survey of 502 companies conducted by Harris Poll in 2016. Other findings from the survey? 21% of small business owners say disaster preparedness is not a high priority, but 22% say they have been affected by a natural disaster.
- 1 First, the critical checklist for anyone dealing with the impact of Hurricane Harvey’s flooding:
- 1.1 1) If a device is soaked with water, do not turn it on.
- 1.2 2) Work with a trusted IT provider to securely assess and test all electronic devices.
- 1.3 3) If a hard drive with critical data has been water damaged, keep it damp in distilled water or in a Ziploc bag with a damp paper towel – especially if it has been in salt water.
- 2 Second, the general checklist for future disaster preparedness:
First, the critical checklist for anyone dealing with the impact of Hurricane Harvey’s flooding:
1) If a device is soaked with water, do not turn it on.
This can cause short circuits and electrical fires, making problems worse and possibly resulting in further property loss or even loss of life. Even in offices that haven’t been completely flooded, power outages can have serious consequences – if air conditioning or dehumidifiers go out for days, small amounts of moisture can collect in computers, servers and other IT equipment.
2) Work with a trusted IT provider to securely assess and test all electronic devices.
This is a complicated process that requires the highest level of safety and protection: move all equipment from the affected location to a dry and clean area; wearing grounded shoes, suits and eye protection; Connect each device individually and allow 24 hours for full boot-up, diagnostics and regular operation. and restoring the equipment to its original location. Don’t attempt this step without the direct assistance of a trusted IT vendor — it may seem like overkill, but office fires can occur days after severe weather from soaked equipment, even in a location otherwise unaffected by flooding.
3) If a hard drive with critical data has been water damaged, keep it damp in distilled water or in a Ziploc bag with a damp paper towel – especially if it has been in salt water.
When salt water dries it can leave serious deposits on electronics that are very difficult to remove.
Anyone affected by Hurricane Harvey (or any other natural disaster) should be aware that flooding is not the only thing that destroys equipment. Power outages, damp, mold and other environmental problems can create unsafe operating conditions even after the worst of the storm has passed and even if devastating floods are avoided.
Second, the general checklist for future disaster preparedness:
1) Implement external, redundant and encrypted data backups.
Most business data backups are performed on-site—often on drives that are right next to the computers being backed up. When fire, flood, or theft impacts your business, you cannot expect those backups to survive. Nor is it an effective strategy to have an employee take backups home at the end of each workday—fire, flood, and theft can hit vehicles just as easily.
2) Formulate a disaster recovery and business continuity plan.
Many business owners think that even in the event of a disaster, they will only be affected for a few days. That’s one of the most indirectly damaging assumptions one can make — disaster relief experts expect Houston and the surrounding cities (and the 6.5 million people who live there) to be severely impacted by Harvey in the months and even years to come have fight. An estimated 25% of all businesses that have been hit by natural disasters never open their doors again – having a disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place before it rains or flood waters start is the critical first step to long-term success .
3) Build (and test!) a virtualization strategy before disaster strikes.
The best disaster preparedness plans include virtualization, where the data you backed up remotely is restored to existing or backup devices in the event of a hurricane, fire, flood, or other disaster. But unless you’ve tested your solution in a best-case scenario to see how quickly it can pull information and get daily operations up and running again, things probably won’t go well when you’re running the worst-case scenario -Scenario to be faced. Elite backup and disaster recovery offerings can perform a full restore in under 48 hours—and those hours can mean the difference between weathering or succumbing to a storm.
CMIT Solutions is committed to helping our customers survive and thrive in the face of natural disasters. Our nationwide network of more than 170 offices and 800 technical staff mobilized last week in response to Hurricane Harvey to help both Texas CMIT franchisees and their customers prepare for and recover from the storm . Site damage analysis and a level of service unmatched in the IT industry. Contact CMIT Solutions today to learn more about how we can take care of your IT, no matter the challenge.
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