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Spring Journal

Volume 29, Issue 2

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Jon Seals

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After the severe storms and flooding that occurred in Missouri between December 23, 2015 and January 9, 2016, residents in the 33 declared counties became eligible for federal assistance. People who suffered losses and damage in the wake of the disaster are urged to seek help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The eligible counties are Barry, Barton, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Cole, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Greene, Hickory, Jasper, Jefferson, Laclede, Lawrence, Lincoln, Maries, McDonald, Morgan, Newton, Osage, Phelps, Polk, Pulaski, Scott, St. Charles, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Taney, Texas, Webster and Wright.

There are many misconceptions about getting help from FEMA. Often, people who would qualify for assistance miss out on assistance because they don’t have access to correct information.

Commonly asked questions about disaster aid from FEMA:

Q: Who should apply for federal disaster assistance?
A: Missouri homeowners and renters in disaster-designated counties who sustained damage to their homes, vehicles or personal property as a result of the severe storms and flooding from December 23, 2015 through January 9, 2016 can apply for FEMA grants.

Q: How do I apply?
A: Residents who were affected can apply for assistance online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.  Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 800-621-3362. The application deadline is March 21.

Q: What kinds of FEMA grants are available?
A: Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, uninsured and underinsured personal property losses and medical, dental and funeral expenses caused by the disaster, along with other serious disaster-related expenses.

Q: What happens after I register?
A: You will receive a phone call from a FEMA inspector to arrange for a survey of the damages. This will come just days after you register. All FEMA inspectors will have official identification. They do not approve or deny claims or requests; those come after the inspection results are submitted. FEMA inspectors do not ask for money and do not recommend contractors to make repairs.

Q.  I’ve already cleaned up and made repairs to my property.  Am I still eligible to register with FEMA?
A.  Yes. You may be eligible for reimbursement of your clean-up and repair expenses. Before and after photos of the damaged property can help expedite your application for assistance.

Q: Does my income need to be under a certain dollar amount to qualify for disaster aid?
A: FEMA’s Housing Assistance program is available, regardless of income, to anyone who suffered damages or losses in disaster-declared counties. However, aid for other losses such as personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses is income-dependent and officials make decisions on a case-by-case basis. To be considered for a grant for these types of losses, the applicant must complete an application for an SBA loan.  

Q.  I have flood insurance.  Should I still register with FEMA?
A.  Yes.  But please contact your insurance company first.

Q: Does the Small Business Administration (SBA) offer loans to homeowners and renters?
A: Yes. The SBA is the primary source of financial assistance following a disaster and provides low-interest disaster loans to homeowners and renters.

Q: Do I have to be turned down by my bank before I can apply for a disaster loan?
A: No. The SBA has its own criteria for determining each loan applicant’s eligibility.

Q: If I rent an apartment, can I get help to replace my damaged personal property?
A: Yes. Renters may qualify for a FEMA grant. Renters may also qualify for SBA disaster loans.

Q: Will FEMA pay for all home repairs or contract work?
A: No. FEMA does not pay to return your home to its pre-disaster condition. FEMA provides grants to qualified homeowners to repair damage not covered by insurance, but these grants may not pay for all the damage. However, an SBA disaster loan may return a home to its pre-disaster condition.

Q: Do I have to repay money I receive for disaster relief?
A: No. You do not have to repay grant money, however SBA disaster loans must be repaid.

Q: Do I have to be a legal U.S. resident to receive Individual Assistance?
A:
No. If you have a child living at home who is a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien, you may apply for Individual Assistance on that child’s behalf and you may be eligible to receive Individual Assistance. FEMA may provide undocumented, eligible immigrants with short-term, non-cash emergency aid.

Q: How can I check the status of my case?
A: You may go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call the toll-free FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. If you need face-to-face assistance, visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) or speak with someone from one of FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) teams currently going door-to-door in Missouri’s disaster-declared counties. All DRCs are accessible and equipped with tools to accommodate disaster survivors who need disability related communication aids.

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Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status.  If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/femaregion7.

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

 
State/Tribal Government or Region: 

Over the last few years, the most important buzzword for MSPs has been “cloud.” However, if you asked 10 vendors what the cloud is, you may get 10 different answers. Many SMBs are super-confused about what the cloud means and how it can help them. In fact, in many cases they “only know it when they see it.” Providing practical solutions using cloud technologies is the best way to help your customers overcome some of the inherent fear of putting their technology in the cloud.

Before we try to help define what makes a service cloudy, we need to acknowledge that there is a huge opportunity for those MSPs who are getting involved. Both the types of services coming to the market and the number of users for these services are growing at a rapid rate. In particular, we at Acronis have seen a massive shift in customer behavior when offering cloud backup and cloud disaster recovery services. No longer are SMBs happy to backup only to a tape drive for offsite storage when they can get a service, more cheaply, in the cloud.

...

http://mspmentor.net/blog/cloud-data-protection-services-time-go-all

From snow and rain on the East Coast and across the Central Plains to the wild El Niño weather patterns out West, people all over the United States are bracing for what could be a tough winter. For businesses, especially, the winter months can be difficult. Hazardous road conditions make it hard to get to and from work, snow and ice can damage power lines and bring down technology infrastructure, and cold weather can lead to burst pipes and flooding, causing businesses to close for indefinite periods of time.

For MSPs or IT solution providers, now is a great time to check in with your customers and prospects in winter storm-prone areas. Start by asking them if they have any specific concerns about how the weather will affect their operations, and answer any questions that they may have. Be sure to let them know that you’re watching their backups closely and tracking all winter storm warnings. Having this conversation emphasizes the value you are bringing to the table. 

Hopefully, your customers have business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plans in place. If they don’t, one of the areas where you can add strategic value, build recurring revenue streams, and drive profitability is by helping them put processes in place that safeguard their critical business data and infrastructure from winter storms. The same goes for prospects. When timed well, BCDR is a great “in” for new and incremental business.

...

http://mspmentor.net/blog/don-t-let-winter-weather-get-your-customers-down

The rate of change is accelerating in IT. The need to provide your enterprise with a competitive advantage and to leverage new technologies is driving the need for rapid change and constant improvement. IT organizations must deliver new business services consisting of new and enhanced applications faster while ensuring SLAs. This environment of frequent and rapid change is what analysts refer to as Mode 2. It requires adopting business practices where development and IT operations work more closely together and more processes are automated. These forces are driving the growing requirement for DevOps and composable infrastructure.

After watching the videos and reading the press reports from the recent HPE Synergy announcement, you’d think that transitioning to a DevOps and implementing composable infrastructure just requires purchasing the new hardware and launching HPE OneView. Some good marketing, but DevOps is a methodology, not a system. It is an ongoing journey of continuous improvement as well as continuous delivery. Adapting to a faster rate of change requires enhancing processes, better communication and tighter integration of tools as well as some new technology.

You can embrace the speed of change while minimizing the disruption and risk. We’ve developed a new brief that explains how you can make the transition to DevOps and composable infrastructure easier using your existing UCS systems, UCS management software and operations management tools.

...

http://blogs.cisco.com/datacenter/the-journey-to-devops-and-composable-infrastructure

In today’s world of virtualization and public and private clouds, there are more options than ever for infrastructure and operations teams. On the one hand, this degree of flexibility and choice gives IT professionals many more tools with which to build networks and address challenges. On the other hand, it can also lead to confusion with respect to when and where to use these options to best effect. While not definitive, the following tips – gleaned from real-world customer interactions – provide a starting point for understanding the pros and cons of five common traditional and virtual deployment models.

 

Traditional Bare Metal

Bare metal servers in enterprise owned and operated data centers have been around forever. While they no longer dominate the market, they remain a go-to-solution for business-critical applications that operate on a long-term time horizon, support a large volume of traffic and need a high degree of performance to ensure specified service level agreements (SLAs). Like any solution that is enterprise owned and operated, traditional bare-metal servers afford a greater degree of control and security, characteristics that lend well to environments where compliance is a key consideration.

...

http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2016/01/28/traditional-network-or-virtual-five-tips-to-help-you-decide/

(TNS) - The mosquito-borne Zika virus may infect up to 4 million people, the World Health Organization said, as the agency convened to decide if the outbreak should be declared an international health emergency.

Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, said in a statement on Thursday that the level of alarm was "extremely high".

"Last year, the virus was detected in the Americas, where it is now spreading explosively. As of today, cases have been reported in 23 countries and territories in the region," Chan said.

...

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/health/Mosquito-born-Zika-virus-spreading-explosively.html

(TNS) - As tornado warning alerts pinged the cellphones of police and fire officials during a disaster information management class at a Deerfield Beach fire station, meteorologist Brad Huffines said he was shocked that drivers on Interstate 95 didn't stop and seek shelter Wednesday.

"As a meteorologist and someone who works in public notification, my biggest concern is we were under an active tornado warning and I was seeing traffic on I-95 continue as usual," said Huffines.

He works for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and was teaching public information officers from around Florida about releasing information during emergencies. "If [the motorists] had a newer smartphone, virtually all of them got the warning," he said.

...

www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/Tornado-serves-as-stern-reminder-for-people-to-get-off-the-road-seek-shelter.html

Today is National Data Privacy Day. I swear, we have days for just about everything – January 28 is also National Kazoo Day and National Blueberry Pancake Day – but a day to focus on data privacy makes a lot of sense. There are a lot of dangers that could cause a lot of harm to your company’s data and your customers.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) explained why focusing on and understanding data privacy is so important:

… 74 percent of Americans feel that it is not easy to understand how their personal information is being used by reading the privacy statements or policies on websites and apps, which ultimately prevents them from taking steps to protect their personal information.

...

http://www.itbusinessedge.com/blogs/data-security/data-privacy-day-a-good-chance-to-review-how-you-protect-information.html

About 50% of businesses that suffer from a major IT disaster without a disaster recovery plan in place never reopen for business, according to a recent American Marketing Association report. In fact, the Ponemon Institute estimates the cost of downtime to be $7,900 per minute and rising.

Disaster recovery plans using multiple, interconnected data centers can ensure your company has the operational redundancy to provide uninterrupted uptime in the event of man-made or natural disaster. More and more companies are choosing to offload IT production activities and data back-up initiatives to CyrusOne data centers.

Leverage the National Internet Exchange (IX) interconnection platform to implement a multi-site site failover strategy across geographic regions. CyrusOne also provides work area recovery space for your team in alternate locations on the same platform.

...

http://www.cyrusone.com/blog/disaster-recovery-planning-is-critical-before-the-unexpected-occurs/

Many organizations think that effective business continuity planning is synonymous with great plan documentation.

It’s not.

Yes, plan documentation is extremely important. BUT… many organizations fail to recognize that effective business continuity plans – and truly prepared and resilient organizations – are the result of a larger business continuity planning lifecycle that begins with requirements setting and ends with practice (and of course, the process recycles on a continuous basis).

Bottom line – plans are just one key ingredient in the development of an effective business continuity program.

...

http://perspectives.avalution.com/2016/effective-business-continuity-program-vs-plan/