When Evacuation's Not an Option

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-10-04 Print this article Print

Is it cost effective to plan for the worst scenario?

Your People Come First

While PSS/World sent 35 of its Jackson employees to Atlanta before the storm hit, employees are usually in the area when a disaster strikes. And if a hurricane or other event takes down a company's buildings or communications center, people can lose touch.

Katrina, for instance, destroyed two Harrah's Entertainment riverboat casinos docked in Gulfport and Biloxi, Miss.

Harrah's created a company intranet within two days that allowed employees to access emergency relief information as well as begin finding work at other Harrah's properties throughout the U.S. The intranet was instrumental in helping Harrah's locate all of its employees in the affected area. Companies such as Oreck set up toll-free information lines.

"You evaluate every risk, but the most urgent thing for employees is finding their families and coworkers," says M. Lewis Temares, vice president of information technology and dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Miami, which shut down for four days because of Katrina's pass through that city.

Alberto Lopez, a spokesman for Harrah's, says no plan could have dealt with the damage that Katrina inflicted on the casinos, which cost roughly $200 million to replace. "This isn't something you can prepare for," he says.

Story Guide:

Diary of Disaster: Riding Out Katrina in the Data Center


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