Independent Agent Magazine
October 2, 2017
Lessons Learned from Harvey, Irma
Though recovery operations in Texas are still in their early stages and efforts have just begun in Florida following Hurricane Irma, Agility Recovery has already identified key lessons from our customers in the affected areas.
Because all business interruptions are unique, each crisis situation offers lessons to help your organization build resilience in the face of disasters—and ensure your firm can protect the promises you make to your insureds.
1) Know your power requirements. Historically, approximately 60% of all business interruptions to which Agility Recovery responds involve loss of power, whether the incident is naturally occurring or man-made. In the case of Irma, temporary power was the No. 1 element Agility Recovery deployed to support customers.
However, before any organization can assist in providing generator power, you must first be able to properly identify and communicate your power needs. This involves asking any licensed electrician a series of detailed yet simple questions—today:
- Is our electrical service single- or three-phase?
- What voltage is our service? It’s typically 208v, 240v or 480v.
- Is our power requirement for a Wye or Delta generator?
- How many amps do we need to power key systems? Tip: Determine your peak Amperage draw over the past 12-24 months.
- What size generator will we require? How many kW will our needs demand?
- Does our building have a power transfer switch? If not, you’ll need to consider other options, such as hardwiring or a spider box for power distribution.
Attempting to answer these questions in the midst of a disaster will delay your recovery for hours, if not days—assuming you’re even able to obtain the services of a qualified electrician during those times.
2) Ensuring access to multiple vendors. During a normal business day, you probably rely on at least half a dozen different vendors to perform your critical operations, including your Internet provider, wireless provider and any number of IT professionals who support your networking capabilities, applications and data. During times of disaster, these same entities can become potential choke points of recovery operations, as they are overcome with requests from their customers. Additionally, you may have unique needs during a recovery that rely on a completely different vendor network, such as fuel vendors and remediation companies.
Agility Recovery recommends at least identifying and starting a relationship with alternate vendors for any vendor-driven elements you consider critical to your basic operations. Consider diversifying cellular carriers among your staff, and look into establishing a service level agreement (SLA) with your IT provider which clearly outlines timeframes and policies for providing service to your firm during large-scale regional events.
Finally, you should also have multiple electricians on call and know how to reach their emergency services team during an outage. If you have an on-site generator or your plan calls for obtaining a mobile generator during long-term power outages, make sure you have access to several fuel providers in and around your region that can deliver fuel at all times of day or night. Maintaining multiple vendors builds some redundancy into your plan during times when commodities like fuel can be scarce.
3) Failing to prepare employees and maintain awareness about their condition. Work to ensure your employees and their families are prepared at home. Without fail, if an employee’s family is impacted by a disaster event at home, they are far less likely to return to work.
Additionally, as we saw in advance of Irma, both voluntary and mandatory evacuations can scatter employees in all directions. Institute some form of consistent, regular communication with employees to remain aware of their whereabouts and well-being.
Even the most well-developed recovery plan falls short if your employees are unwilling or unable to return to work and assist in the recovery. And without knowing where your employees have relocated, properly understanding their timeline for returning to work and their capability to do so is limited.
Resources to Help You Plan
Agility Recovery is the Big “I”-preferred provider of disaster recovery and business continuity solutions. Check out these free downloadable resources below developed to help your firm prepare for the next crisis: