Hurricane Irene – The Aftermath

There are still plenty of homes and businesses without power – and may be for days to come; there are still plenty of streets and communities under water – with lots of clean up to come; there are still plenty of insurance claims to be filed and resolved – with lots of tears to accompany the frustration.  But, all in all Hurricane Irene was not quite as bad as most models projected.

There will be some discussion, no doubt, on the merits of being safe rather than sorry and the benefits of preparing for the worst versus the media sensationalizing the news and people and governments overreacting to the threat.  I, personally, could almost argue both sides of that discussion.  Although I hate this phrase, I’ll use it:  “it is what it is” or, in this case, “it was what it was”.

As stated above, in the first paragraph, it is not over for many, but the “exciting” part of the story has come and gone without too much damage being done, especially in terms of corporate crisis management, business continuity and disaster recovery programs are concerned.  If your experiences suggest otherwise, I would love to hear from you.

One interesting point to note, particularly on the domestic side of things, the American Red Cross has a terrific Safe & Well website where people, once they are safe and have access to the internet following a crisis, can post information about their whereabouts and status so loved ones can be informed.  I am not sure how well publicized this is at this time and how many “loved ones” know to look here for information, but, I think it is a terrific concept.

As I watched the media coverage for hours, it always struck me as somewhat hypocritical that reporters and camera men (and women, I suppose) stood in the wake of the storm telling people how important it is to evacuate and take cover.  If you are going to report from the middle of the storm, people (yes, the stupid ones, but there are plenty) are going to take that as a sign that they can, too.  It is almost like issuing them a challenge – obviously, it can’t be so bad; if the news reporters can stand there, so can I.

Hurricane Irene did, at least, do us the favor of inflicting the most harm over the weekend with minimal impact to commerce and allowing some time for clean-up prior to kicking off our work week.  Thanks, I guess.

Now it’s back to business.  And, back to business for business continuity planners is to ensure this event, even if it was not as impactful as anticipated, allowed us the opportunity to revisit our level of preparedness and discover opportunities for improving and preparing our programs.  Certainly, I can imagine that many of you discovered shortcomings in your communications program for disseminating information concerning your organization’s practices and procedures in response to this pending and then immediate threat.

I am glad that Hurricane Irene was not as bad as some people thought it would be.  The downside of this, however, is that the next time, fewer people will take heed to the warning remembering the, somewhat false alarm they experienced here.  I think there was this, “cry wolf syndrome” somewhat at play with Hurricane Katrina – where they had gone through hurricane after hurricane with limited impacts that they took the warnings lightly.  Let’s hope this is not the case here.

Thank you for your input.