Katrina has taken a terrible toll in human life and devastated communities. In the aftermath of the disaster, recovery firms are helping getting business back online. The effectiveness of business continuity plans and the best laid disaster recovery systems are being put to the ultimate test. Given that Katrina won't be the last natural disaster to visit communities, it's worthwhile to check out the Sans Institute set of guidelines for businesses facing hurricanes or other impending disaster conditions:
Local IT staff
- Work with local building management to coordinate building shutdowns. Be aware that most buildings will begin shutdown procedures when a Hurricane Warning is issued. (If they say power is going off at 1:00 pm that means power is shutdown at that time not that they are starting to shutdown.) Coordinate with firm wide IT to begin systems shutdown 30 minutes prior to building shutdowns.
- Work with local managers and share any information with Firm wide IT.
- Loaner laptops should be issued to key personnel that do not have laptops.
- Keep a loaner laptop that contains Ghost images for desktops/laptops.
- Ensure you have updated your contact information in the IT Contacts.
Firm wide IT
- Perform a full backup of all systems 4 days prior to the impact of the storm unless already scheduled. Have backups sent off site. (Be aware that UPS, FedEx, etc will stop shipments prior to the hurricane's impact.)
- Perform incremental backups every night prior to storm and have them sent off site.
- Perform Full backup prior to storm impact if possible. Have local IT retain control.
- Once building power is shutdown redirect the main numbers for the affected offices to an offsite voicemail box. (This eliminates busy signals and you can notify clients of the offices' status.)
- Update Office Closure hotline as the situation changes.
- Update Intranet with Hurricane updates for offices in unaffected regions.
- Prepare alternate procedures for the firm wide helpdesk.
- Get any necessary equipment into or out off the offsite datacenters. (Be aware the datacenter will not allow access 48 hours prior to the storm making landfall in the area and will not resume until the local authorities have deemed it safe to travel)
- Wrap critical systems that are located in the affected offices in plastic to help reduce water damage.
Newsweek online (at MSNBC) has a list of organizations--such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army--suggested by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) that are taking donations that will go to victims of the hurricane.