Church IT

Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

Those are probably not the favorite words of folks on the gulf coast or the east coast of Florida right now. Currently, TS Gustav is churning ready to turn into a hurricane and make landfall somewhere between the Florida panhandle and the Texas coast. With New Orleans smack dab in the middle. Meanwhile, TS Hanna is brewing in the Atlantic and cruising along nicely. However, about the time she turns into a hurricane is when she is supposed to slow way down to build up strength and take a left turn right for the south east coast of the sunshine state. IE-us.

The good news is that in both cases there is time to prepare. Notify people. Make backups. Decide if we are going to wrap stuff in plastic, etc. Unlike, say an earthquake, where by the time it happens, it is over. You go straight from bliss to confused recovery. No advance warning to prepare. Been there, crashed that. Got the t-shirt. I’ll take hurricanes any day.

Which brings me to my point. I have been thinking about tiered disaster recovery. It isn’t because I am lazy. I just don’t like to spend two days preparing for an event that doesn’t happen only to spend two days undoing it all. So for me, I try to balance my preparations against perceived threat level- both in probability of something happening and potential severity. When TS Fay came through I just made extra backups and we monitored things remotely. Odds of anything happening to the building were slim, but if it did at least we could recover.
Hanna has me a little concerned. Yes, it is way early to tell. But certainly not too early to lay out a timeline plan and make sure the non-perishable supplies are stocked. Things that you need eventually anyway and more so in an event. Like water. I will probably up our bottled water inventory by about 50% at work. If anyone gets caught short, we’ll have extra to give them and if nothing happens, we’ll just order short the next month or so. Depending on how things go, I may fill the gas cans for the generator in a few days.
Over the last few years we have made changes in our physical plant at work to require less and less preparation on the outside. Replacing windows with impact ones, getting rid of playground equipment that can blow around in favor of stuff that is cemented in, etc. So really, from a disaster standpoint, all we can do is backup data, prepare for water intrusion, and decide what if any ministry opportunities we want to accomplish on the backside. We have a kitchen that is powered by natural gas. That almost never goes down in a storm. Even without electricity we can cook and feed lots of people. Which, ultimately is more important than restoring a data backup anyway.

So I am curious, do you have a tiered plan? Or do you just have a major one and each time select those things you think are most important? Either system would have its merits. Any thoughts?


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