“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,” – Charles Dickens

 Did you dodge a bullet with Sandy?

There was a very sharp dividing line, roughly cutting Manhattan Island from east river to the Hudson River along 30th street.  If you were a business or a resident north of 30th street, you didn’t have a light bulb flicker and would have been barely aware of the storm.  However, those south of 30th street lost power for 5 days or more, had no food, no mass transit, no street lights and possibly had your business or home wiped out in minutes by what amounted to a single wave flood.  People above the line continued to live their lives in a normal fashion.  People below the line were thrust into log cabin era living.

I live and work ‘below’ the line.  We had no power or any other services for 5 days.  In hi-rise buildings that means, no elevators, no running water; toilets don’t flush and showers don’t function.  On the plus side, parking spaces were abundant and parking fines were a non-issue.  My own car was totaled by the flood waters.  I had to go uptown to open businesses to get food, or to friends’ houses to take a shower.  In short I was a lower Manhattan refugee.

We have clients above that 30th street line with no data backup, no power backup, no communication line backups and their businesses trundled on.  I also have clients below 30th street that had all that good stuff, and needed it to shut down gracefully and restart their businesses.  Between the lucky and the prepared, who fared the best?  The unprepared lucky people north of the line.  However, for those businesses below 30th street who were unlucky and unprepared, the price for their shortsightedness was devastating.

I would hate for those lucky clients to take away the wrong lesson.  Being prepared for the unexpected, with plans of action and appropriate processes, services and equipment is essential when your luck runs out.  Disaster recovery and business continuity planning takes time, testing and practice.  There just isn’t enough time to plan appropriately when the storm is already on the way.  Keep in mind that much of the infrastructure of coastal NYC was submerged in salt water.  We may not know the full extent of the damage until time has passed and a few freeze/thaw cycles have come to pass.

The Moral of the story is:

While it may be better to be lucky than be right, luck is not a plan for disaster recovery or business continuity.

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– Dan Scolnick
IT Computer Support of New York
President and Chief Technical Officer