Planning for natural disasters, including the “big one”

For anyone operating a business in the Midwest, the threat of snowstorms, tornadoes, hail and floods is constantly at the forefront of any emergency management plan. Indiana, for example, has had more than 18,200 weather extremes during a 60-year period leading up to 2010, with a good portion of them involving those weather events.

Planning for natural disasters, including the “big one”Earthquakes? Unlike California, which had 1,987 earthquakes with magnitudes of 3.5 or above during that period, Indiana only experienced one significant earthquake since 1950. That earthquake, which measured at a magnitude of 4, struck in 1984.

However, as you reassess your company’s emergency management plan, you’d be wise to take into account the worst possible scenario involving an earthquake. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Midwest could face the “highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States” because of its location on the New Madrid Seismic Zone, one of the most active faults in the nation.

More than seven years ago, FEMA had issued the warning for the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee, pointing to a study that showed an earthquake with a 7.7 magnitude is possible. Some scientists had reported the event could happen within 50 years.

“People who live in these areas and the people who build in these areas certainly need to take into better account that at some time there is … expected to be a catastrophic earthquake in that area, and they’d better be prepared for it,” FEMA spokesperson Mary Margaret Walker had said at the time.

So, how do you plan for the big one and other natural disasters?

  1. Establish an emergency plan. Your employees, as you already know, are the most valuable assets of your company. Regularly keep them trained on what to do in the event of an emergency, regularly updating them on safety drills to perform during tornadoes and other extreme weather. If you haven’t done so already, incorporate earthquake drills. Numerous business throughout the Midwest have already performed a massive earthquake drill in connection with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. For tips on performing these drills, see the checklist for the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut.
  1. Assess your physical space. Next to your employees, protecting your physical investment is a top priority. Get an assessment of how secure your building will be in the event of flooding, tornadoes and other natural disasters. If you’re planning to move into new office or warehouse space, make sure you understand how well it was built to withstand strong winds, floods and other extreme weather.
  1. Develop a backup plan. Whether your business is crippled by a natural disaster or other events, it’s wise to protect your mission-critical data by setting up a secondary support infrastructure that allows you to seamlessly continue your operations. Colocation centers not only can provide automated backup and recovery services, they can provide a location for your employees to work in the event that your business location is inaccessible.

At Lifeline Data Centers, we can help you get started on a recovery plan that works for your operations and industry specifications. Contact us today to arrange a tour of our facility, which features more than 186,000 square feet of space on our Eastgate campus and a F5 tornado-resistant rating.

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Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.