When a terrorist bomb ripped through World Trade Center on February 26, the human tragedy was of immediate concern. Thousands of employees were immediately evacuated and hundreds of companies that occupied the twin towers and surrounding buildings were displaced. Later it became apparent that the businesses affected by the physical destruction were in danger of additional financial disaster
In order to maintain their businesses, companies required not only physical office space but replacement computers and communications equipment.
Authorities allowed tenants of the buildings 45 minutes to go back into the soot-infested twin towers to recover what was left. Then the Center was closed for weeks.
Of all the companies only a fortunate handful had contingency plans and successful recoveries. One of those companies was Falconwood, Brody, White & Co., a commodity brokerage firm, which held office in Building # 4, an annex of the Trade Center. They found no damage to any office equipment in their office or to the backup tapes they had in a storage vault. Office personnel were allowed to reload all records onto AS/400s at an XL/Datacomp hotsite in Ridgewood, NJ and finish work remaining from Friday.
“We alerted XL/Datacomp that we might need the use of the facility,” said Edwin Rywalt, assistant VP of computer and telecommunications services. “At 10:30 Saturday morning we formally declared our disaster and within 12 hours we were up and running again. The site had plenty of computers and office space. As a result we were able to continue business without interruption.”
With the use of call forwarding, Falconwood re-established their communications network. All incoming calls were rerouted from the phone company to the hotsite, instead of directly to their offices in the Trade Center. With offices in nine other cites in the U.S. and thousands of clients communication lines are as crucial to their business as computer records.
Fortunately there was very little employee trauma.
“Obviously, there was a great rush of adrenaline,” said Rywalt. “We have a lot of talented people here (at Falconwood) who knew what needed to be done. Everyone stayed on an even keel and we got the job done.”
Falconwood operated completely out of the hotsite for the first four days after the disaster and continued data processing operations for another 24 days.
Rywalt said, “We had tested our recovery plan about four or five five times over the past two years and found nothing wrong with it. I felt we had prepared in the best way possible for whatever the outcome.”
This article adapted from Vol. 6 #2.