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Volume 27, Issue 4

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Hurricanes

Hurricanes (15)

Monday, 29 October 2007 23:30

Hurricane Andrew: The Mother of All Disasters

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No one knew on Saturday, August 22, 1992, that Hurricane Andrew would turn out to be the largest natural disaster in the nation’s history. No one could predict that it would supersede Hurricane Hugo as the costliest disaster ever and cause over five times the damage of that 1989 storm.

At the IBM Business Recovery Services (BRS) “war room” in Tampa, Florida, activity kicked into high gear that Saturday. As one of the primary large and mid-range systems backup hot sites, Tampa would serve as the focal point for all customer calls, alerts and disaster declarations. A duty team of highly skilled specialists in various technical disciplines toiled through the night making technical assessments, plotting the path of the storm, evaluating options and planning for the various scenarios that were likely to unfold.

Recovery center staff created maps listing the locations of all customers in the storm’s path. They made contact with local emergency management organizations.

Subscribers started calling to advise IBM of their status and intentions or to put us on alert. Equipment, particularly network gear, was checked and packaged for shipment. Communication links were check out to the eleven other IBM Area Recovery Centers. Finally, key IBM executives were contacted and informed of the situation and status. Having done all that could be done by way of preparation, the teams braced and awaited the storm.

While BRS teams toiled to assist Florida customers already in the throes of business recovery, the storm raged across the Gulf of Mexico and teams of experts in Texas and Louisiana were completing preparation and contact for customers in those areas. The two hurricane landfalls were two major disasters, separated by less than 48 hours.

When it was all over, there were an estimated 33 declarations in the industry. The 17 customers that IBM serviced were from Florida, Louisiana and Texas. Many major industries were affected including banking, health care, financial, wholesale, chemical, transportation, data processing and travel.

As power was restored, the recovered customers returned to their home sites, wiser for the experience and more resolute in their efforts to assure recoverability in the future. Beyond the sheer magnitude of Hurricane Andrew, the business recovery lessons learned did not reveal any surprises.

Non-subscribers still endeavored to avail themselves of recovery centers and services at the last minute and, unfortunately, had to be turned away. Some customers regretted not testing and updating their plans more frequently and returned home determined to exercise their plans more vigorously in the future. While none of these problems turned out to be show stoppers, they made some recovery efforts lengthier and more complex than necessary.

The same lessons apply: have a plan and exercise it regularly. Be confident that your hot site vendor has the skills, experience and depth of resources to assure that you can successfully recover.

Andrew won’t soon be forgotten. It has again reminded us how fragile humankind is in the face of nature’s wrath. Even with warning, little could have been done to reduce the devastation. It is likely that building codes in south Florida will become more stringent in the future and that measures will be taken to assure a complete social recovery as well as to minimize the impact of a reoccurrence.

Companies in affected areas will mimic these actions in an effort to strengthen their own business recovery posture. They will be better prepared in the future for having suffered through Andrew.

But somehow I can’t help but feel that some, particularly those in unaffected areas, will again ignore the lessons of a recent disaster and do nothing differently. And there remains that bothersome and nagging feeling that there are far worse disasters awaiting us out there, somewhere in the future.


John E. Nevola is manager of the Business Recovery Services Center at Integrated Systems Solutions Corporation (ISSC). He started his data processing career in 1965 as a network systems programmer with Bell Labs. He was named site manager of the Systems Support and Operations function at IBM’s Franklin Lakes facility in 1982. In 1989, he was assigned to his current position.

This article adapted from Vol. 5 #4.

1992 has been a horrible year for disasters of all kinds. Earthquakes, riots, floods and now hurricanes have caused unprecedented damage. Unlike the Chicago Flood, business’ biggest disaster ever, Hurricane Andrew wreaked a terrible human toll. I visited south Florida recently, and was shocked to see many residential areas are still piles of rubble.

Although many businesses suffered physical and financial losses from the hurricane, the vast human crisis has complicated recovery plans. Even relatively unaffected companies with recovery plans in place have struggled because their employees were hit so hard by the disaster.

Monday, 29 October 2007 23:27

We Were Spared! Hurricane Bob

Written by

Hurricane Bob sent us threatening signals, but Mother Nature spared the Virginia and North Carolina coast from major damage.

As veterans of “hurricane havoc” as recently as two years ago with the onslaught of Hurricane Hugo, everyone initiated prudent precautions to protect their assets. In the south, our recent experiences told us to prepare for the worst.

The crisis management procedures were dusted off, reviewed to determine if phone numbers were correct, vendors in place, and the backup computer tapes were stored in a safe vault.

Certain companies went as far as to elevate their computer disk drives to avoid flood waters, and many covered the tops of their computers with plastic to abate ceiling water damage.

Various hotsite vendors readied their facilities to receive subscribers that would be victims from power outages or building damage.

The companies that were contacted indicated that all remembered the wrath of Hugo and were preparing for the worst.

Most firms have taken steps to strengthen their contingency plans to address all facets of recovery.

With less than $1.5 million in property damage between the two states, our fortunate outcome was not the case in New England, where $800 million was the estimated total for the region.

Hurricane Bob gave us a good exercise to see how we improved our DR plans since our last scrimmage with destruction.


Jim Williford is Vice President of First Recovery, Inc., a Hotsite facility in Troy, North Carolina.

This article adapted from Vol. 4 #4.

Monday, 29 October 2007 23:27

Nations Costliest Disaster

Written by

By almost any traditional measure, Hurricane Andrew was the worst natural disasters in disaster recovery history. In addition to the staggering human cost, the valuation of destroyed property was the largest in United States history. At the time of this special report, thousands of individuals and families remain homeless, with no prospects for returning home within weeks; it may be years before life returns to normal in this stricken area.

From a business continuity perspective, Hurricane Andrew ranks among the major recovery events in history. A large number of companies lost computing capability and many had to relocate to recovery centers in order to continue business operations. In at least one way, however, Hurricane Andrew was not as devastating as it could have been. It’s point of landfall in Florida lies a mere twenty miles south of the heavy concentration of large data centers in Miami. Had Andrew struck Miami directly, the damage to computing capability would have been far greater.

As it was, CDRS received nine disaster declarations from seven companies, ranking Hurricane Andrew the third largest multiple recovery event in the company’s history. One major customer, John Alden Life Insurance Company, ran its processing from a recovery facility for 15 days.

While it was challenging, this recovery typified the advantages a well prepared, well tested company has in dealing with such events. John Alden had in place a well detailed hurricane recovery plan which provided for the forwarding of data and people to a recovery site prior to the storm impact. The recovery ran smoothly for its entire 15 days.

From a business continuity perspective, Hurricane Andrew ranks among the major recovery events in history.

Another factor which may have softened the business impact of Hurricane Andrew is the predictability of hurricanes relative to other types of disasters. Many of our customers undertook advance preparations for the storm, aligning people and data away from the projected impact area. While most of these companies never actually switched their processing to the recovery site, they were able to effectively run in parallel for the duration of their crisis.

Running parallel operations was more prevalent in the storm’s “second phase” in Louisiana and Texas, where the damage was substantially lower. Experiences from previous hurricanes (Hugo and Gilbert) proved valuable for recovery vendors and subscribers alike.

Of course, there was a human side to the recovery as well. Many of those individuals involved in the recovery spent time away from their homes and families during a time of extreme psychological uncertainty. The performance of these people under fire was truly admirable. In several cases where customer staff were physically unable to relocate due to the impact of the storm, they were replaced on site by CDRS staff, to insure successful recovery.

CDRS wishes to salute the entire South Florida business community for their effort and resilience under very trying circumstances.


Mike Tobin is Vice President of Marketing with Comdisco Disaster Recovery Services.

This article adapted from Vol. 5 #4.

Monday, 29 October 2007 23:26

Hurricane Preparation for Businesses

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10 STEPS THAT BUSINESSES SHOULD TAKE BEFORE THE WIND BLOWS

"I know but...I never thought that my business would be impacted by a hurricane.”

Unfortunately, this statement made by a business owner impacted by Hurricane Andrew in 1993, is indicative of the reasoning by many businesses across the country. Although major hurricanes are relatively rare, they do occur and can be deadly. The only effective way that a business can mitigate or diffuse the effects of a hurricane is to prepare for it.

What are hurricanes? A hurricane is a violent storm that originates over tropical waters, with sustained winds over 74 miles per hour. Hurricanes are unique among natural disasters in that they are often preceded by some warning period. Unlike earthquakes or tornadoes which strike suddenly and unexpectedly, hurricanes are identified as they form over the ocean and their path and intensity can usually be predicted with some degree of certainty. This period of time before the hurricane strikes offers businesses an opportunity to prepare that is not available with other calamities. Taking advantage of this can mean the difference between business survival and corporate death.

The main hazards caused by hurricanes most often involve loss of power, flooding, and the inability to access facilities. Businesses may also be impacted by structural damage as well. Precautions should be taken in the event that this occurs. Always prepare for the worst. The main effort, therefore, should be geared to assuring that your business can continue to function even though it may have experienced a prolonged power outage, flood, structural damage and/or the inability of employees to get to work.

OK. The storm is out there somewhere and it looks as if it is heading toward your area. What should you do to eliminate or minimize business interruption? Well, listed below are 10 recommendations for businesses in the path of a hurricane:

The best laid plans of mice and men...” would find it a struggle to deal with Andrew’s wrath and the damage it left in its wake. The psychological and financial scars will be felt for many years to come.

Physical preparation to “batten down the hatches” had guidelines to follow, but dealing with the intangible factors faced in the midst of 165 mph winds presented a challenge for even the most sophisticated of facility contingency plans.

Our phone began ringing on Sunday, August 23 at 7:30 a.m., with calls on our 24-hour hotline from companies who were pre-registered with us, and who knew their facilities had potential serious physical damage exposure to Hurricane Andrew. Requests to stand by to respond immediately were numerous, should their buildings, malls, municipal facilities, record centers, or data centers get hit.

By Monday morning, those calls were coming in from Louisiana, and later that day, from firms in the Golden Triangle area of Texas including Port Arthur, Galveston and Houston.

As our physical operation centers in those areas were battening down themselves in addition to preparing to respond to customer needs, our BMS CAT Catastrophe team moved into northern Florida to cities such as Tampa, Orlando and Fort Meyers on Sunday afternoon and evening. Knowing from past experience that airports and highways would soon be closed, our CAT Team took emergency and restoration supplies and moved into these outlying areas so that response time would be minimized. Once the hurricane moved out, travel to the areas further south could be possible.

Our supply trucks, carrying generators, fuel, radios, cellular phones, emergency lighting equipment, ladders, chain saws, dehumidifiers, corrosion control kits, restoration chemicals, drinking water, emergency supplies of food and first-aid kits rolled out to supply and distribution points in selected areas so that they could move in as quickly as possible.

As the storm moved out and it was safe to drive further south toward Miami, the physical property scenes became worse. Driving south we saw uprooted trees, twisted road signs, broken billboards and intermittent roof damage.

Once we reached south Miami, the devastation was much worse—roofs torn off, road signs missing completely, landmark building locations blown away and power lines down. Even the concrete poles holding the main power lines were snapped off.

Traffic lights, dangling perilously close to the cars, were not working. Police barricades were everywhere and traffic was backed up for miles. Unless you could prove you had a hotel reservation, a security pass or an emergency contractor permit, it was almost impossible to get through security check points. Fortunately, the companies who had called us had provided our names to security as part of their contingency plans.

An important factor in disaster recovery plans, especially for dealing with a “community-wide” disaster, is to include directions to your facilities that do not necessarily depend on road or highway signs, because those signs may not exist after the incident occurs. Landmark buildings, such as a specific gas station on a corner where you are to turn right, may no longer exist. It may sound strange, but if signs are missing, how do you find your client’s building which may have the address sign missing?

Once we arrived at the specific location, getting through the fallen roofs, uprooted trees and debris took time and maneuvering. In the initial stages of recovery, there were no working phones and no power. When we were lucky, we could communicate with our crews and warehouse via cellular phones—if the cells were not overloaded and when we were in an area where they were working. Available air-conditioned warehouse space was virtually non-existent, unless one had made arrangements prior to the hurricane.

A key operations factor in our catastrophe team’s emergency response plan has always been pre-planned arrangements with warehouse facilities for use of their space should a community-wide disaster occur.

Getting to and from different locations could take hours due to the traffic and debris. Vendors and insurance adjusters who did not house their personnel early enough after the disaster had trouble finding hotel rooms, and some hotels had no power and/or no water for at least the first week after the hurricane. Those who were able to find hotels with power and water were usually as far away as Fort Lauderdale or Plantation.

The initial stages of restoration involved removing debris, cutting away fallen trees, removing water and dehumidifying facilities. Generators and sufficient fuel were critical.

Project management meetings with many of our clients suffering the losses took place in the initial stages of recovery in buildings filled with mud, water, broken glass, sand, stench and even frogs and snakes.

Restoring facilities and their contents damaged by Hurricane Andrew resembled a battlefield triage operation. Our normal access to affected electronics, telecommunications, documents and media were severely hampered by extensive debris, structural collapse, highly corrosive salt water, lack of power and negligible support services. Removing debris and water, acquiring emergency power, clearing corridors and lowering the relative humidity were our first priorities.

Compared to damage from fresh water, after which equipment can often be successfully restored, the pervasive salt water and high humidity could quickly reduce success levels. It was imperative to get to those areas of the building where critical equipment and components were in operation or stored, and to apply emergency corrosion control procedures as quickly as possible. Separating the equipment that could possibly be saved had to be done immediately. Prioritizing thousands of pieces of equipment was a crucial function for the project management team.

Innovative project managers removed equipment from the damaged area and temporarily erected a substitute clean room environment. In many cases where the machines were not restorable, the hard drives could be cleaned and the data retrieved.

Archival documents, vital records and critical work in progress were scattered everywhere. Rusted filing cabinets, overturned racks and shelves, documents wadded up in blocks where the water had receded from them and bound volumes filled with debris and sewage were prevalent throughout the affected buildings. What was important and cost effective to save?

Even for those companies who had prioritized their records and work in progress, access to these documents and media was critical before mold and mildew appeared. Refrigeration trucks would serve as emergency freezing units, pending freeze-drying.

Because sufficient controlled environments did not exist for at least the first week after the hurricane, resource coordination was critical to successful restoration. Supplies, equipment, materials and labor were unavailable to those who did not pre-plan and contract for them in their contingency plans. Emergency authorities commandeered most transportation vehicles and available resources.

Before we arrived on the scene, our resource coordinator had emergency supplies on the way to our clients’ locations with more standing by, including over 50 portable generators and a 2500 hp diesel generator. Within 48 hours, over 80 supervisors and 300 general cleaning workers were in operation under the direction of our Project Management Team. Without prior arrangements, most vendors had difficulty locating temporary labor because so many people were affected and would not leave their damaged homes, property or temporary shelters.

Coordinating resources was also critical in locating air-conditioned warehouse space to provide off-site restoration for the contents of facilities whose roofs no longer existed. On the Saturday following the Monday hurricane and on the next Monday, torrential rain storms deluged Miami, virtually drowning those buildings whose roofs had not yet been repaired or replaced. Critical contents needed to be relocated as quickly as possible to a controlled environment for restoration and protection.

Financing an operation of this size also requires existing nationwide financial relationships for meeting payroll, renting equipment, finding supplies, and continuing one’s relationship with customers. For example, soon after Hurricane Andrew, a water main broke in New York, flooding basements and vital record storage areas, tornadoes devastated areas of Wisconsin, a major institution in the Northeast was heavily damaged by fire, and Hurricane Iniki hit Hawaii. All these disasters further tested contingency plans and recovery operations.


Pat Williams Moore is the Director of the Education and Disaster Recovery Division of BMS Catastrophe, Inc. (BMS CAT), an international corporation headquartered in Ft. Worth, Texas. She serves on the technical committees of NFPA, BOMA INT’L, and AH&MA .

This article adapted from Vol. 5 #4.

At Midnight, September 21, 1989, the most destructive hurricane ever to strike the U.S. hit South Carolina with its full fury. And while Southern Bell and its employees staggered, they never fell.

By many measures, it was Southern Bell’s finest hour. Despite more than $7 billion of damage to personal property and businesses statewide, most of Southern Bell’s telecommunications network remained in operation. Approximately 95 percent of the company’s customers in South Carolina never lost service.

People called emergency agencies, their neighbors and relatives during the height of the storm. One customer said he heard the freight train-like sound of Hugo’s winds through his parents’ telephone receiver in Charleston.

The superb performance of the company’s network was no accident. Southern Bell in South Carolina had recently completed a four-year, $750 million investment program that resulted in South Carolina having a “Network Second to None” in the nation. This network includes digital switching and some 48,000 miles of fiber optic cable. While buildings were demolished by Hugo, Southern Bell’s underground fiber optic cable remained in service, out of reach of the 138 mile-per-hour winds, falling trees, and swirling debris.

Nonetheless, Hugo caused Southern Bell major damage, knocking out service to some 50,000 of its one million South Carolina customers. In some areas, abnormally high calling volumes resulted in busy circuit conditions and delays in completing calls. Damage caused by Hurricane Hugo cost Southern Bell, which is self-insured, $50 million in South Carolina alone.

THE HOURS BEFORE

Many days before the storm hit South Carolina, Southern Bell employees had begun tracking Hugo’s course, and they anticipated its arrival. The company opened Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) in Charleston, Columbia and Southern Bell headquarters in Atlanta.

Telephone connections between the EOCs were established over the company’s private network, the BellSouth Communications Network. Ham radio equipment was set up in the Columbia EOC to monitor transmissions from residents of the state’s coastal area. EOC personnel began making contacts to rush-ship supplies of cable, drop wire and poles.

Governor Carroll Campbell called for a mandatory evacuation of Charleston and the state’s barrier islands. Coastal area employees were briefed on post-storm assignments and reporting locations and were released from the job to care for their families and evacuate the area.

DURING THE STORM

At 10:00 p.m. on September 21, a core group of Southern Bell employees sat in a heavily fortified company location in downtown Charleston anxiously awaiting Hugo’s wrath. As the winds picked up around them, trees began to snap, power lines were yanked to the ground, electrical transformers exploded into fiery blue sparks and large metal roofs peeled off nearby buildings.

As the storm passed through Charleston, the winds shook the company building, which houses the Charleston EOC and the central switching office providing local and long distance connections.
Regardless of pre and post-disaster recovery planning, nothing could be done during the storm except to sit and wait it out.

AFTER THE STORM

As dawn began to light up the scene, South Carolinians were shocked at the destruction. Homes and businesses were destroyed or heavily damaged. Trees were down everywhere. Commercial power was out for over one-third of the state. Weeks would pass before power was fully restored to many coastal areas.
Immediately, Southern Bell began the challenging job of climbing through the wreckage to assess damages to its facilities.

Damage reports showed 2.3 million feet of cable lying on the ground, 4300 downed drop wires, 1685 downed poles, 32 central switching offices on emergency power, 10 central offices on batteries, 555 digital loop carriers on batteries and 10 sites washed away completely.

In the meantime, the Atlanta EOC began locating crews of technicians that could be borrowed from the other eight southeastern states served by Southern Bell’s parent company, BellSouth. Two hundred additional employees were needed to trim trees, repair cable and fuel and maintain the generators used to power the digital loop carriers.

The Columbia and Charleston EOCs began making living arrangements for the incoming forces. The company supplied generators to two motels to house the additional employees. A Columbia catering firm was hired to prepare and deliver meals for employees for a two week period while power was being restored to grocery stores and restaurants.

Additional safety personnel were sent to the coastal area to review safety procedures with employees. Despite the extra employees and 12 to 18 hour work days, no serious injuries were incurred during the restoration work.
Immediately after the storm, the EOCs began locating and sending additional work equipment, such as chain saws, lanterns, batteries, and rain suits, to the coastal and eastern regions of the state most affected by the storm. Batteries of telephones were installed for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and for the National Red Cross center hurriedly set up in Orangeburg. Trailers with coin telephones were set up at various locations for use by residents whose service could not be immediately restored.

While most of the major network trucking and distribution facilities were repaired and placed back into service within days of Hugo, Southern Bell continued work on Hugo-related repairs for nearly a full year after the storm. Cable damaged by less noticeable wind cracks and stress became faulty over time. Also, the tidal surge submerged telephone wiring and other facilities at customers’ homes and businesses causing corrosion and eventually interfering with service.

Ironically, more damage was done to cables and facilities by contractors doing restoration and repair work. During the past year, the level of construction has been high in Southern Bell’s Hugo-affected areas, and there has been a great demand placed on the company and its employees to rewire homes and businesses and run drop wires to provide new service.

LESSONS LEARNED, CHANGES MADE

All in all, Southern Bell employees and the fiber optic, digital telecommunications network they created stood up to Hugo’s test admirably. Emergency agencies, government officials and major business customers found their voice and data links to be intact during and after the storm. Particularly, underground fiber optic cable kept the phones ringing when an above-ground, copper cable network would have failed.

Perhaps the biggest problem not recognized at the time of the disaster was the widespread loss of commercial power for such a long period of time. Many more generators were needed and have now been procured to provide power to certain components of the company’s telecommunications network.

Southern Bell is installing ham radio equipment at its EOCs to provide an alternate means of communications, and the Columbia EOC has recently been equipped with a National Weather Service satellite dish and equipment to better monitor weather conditions.

The Hugo experience also pointed to an underlying principle of disaster recovery: everything possible must be done to free up employees in the affected area so they can do their jobs of repairing damage incurred by the disaster. In the event of future disasters, staff support personnel will be sent to the affected areas more quickly to coordinate travel, motels and food and to receive and track delivery of materials.

THE STATE GOVERNMENT EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS NETWORK

While many lines of communication remained open during Hugo, South Carolina State Government realized improvements needed to be made to emergency communications between state and local agencies throughout the state. With the leadership of Governor Campbell, utilities, government and telecommunications companies, including Southern Bell, formed a partnership to create a statewide fiber optic telecommunications network to be used during a disaster. It is a private Electronic Tandem Network that links all of the state’s 46 county emergency centers. The network is activated upon the command of state government and operates free of public telephone traffic.

Perhaps the most important feature of the Emergency Preparedness Network is its ability to re-route traffic around facilities that may be out of service. The network forms a “ring” around the state, giving state and local government many alternate voice and data transmission pathways to better keep open the lines of communication.

Hurricane Hugo was the toughest test that nature has ever given Southern Bell and its people. Thanks to the technical superiority of its network, the dedication of its employees, and a workable, thorough disaster plan, the company came through for its customers.

Today, an even better plan exists, as well as a better network with more fiber optic and digital technology, and an improved capability to provide the one service that is most critical during a disaster--communications.


Ted Creech is Public Relations Manager for Southern Bell, coordinating public and employee information for the company in South Carolina. He spent two weeks in Charleston just after Hurricane Huge struck on September 21, 1989.

This article adapted from Vol. 3, No. 4, p. 30.

Monday, 29 October 2007 23:22

MIS Damages From Hurricane Unfolding

Written by

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Shattering the lives and homes of residents of the Carolinas, Hurricane Hugo also blasted data centers with floods, wind and the cessation of the blood of computers - electric power.

Although some larger enterprises had emergency power generators, and others managed to borrow them, many organizations simply had to back up the data and power down until commercial power was restored. The longer power stays down, the more the risk to sensitive equipment and data, and the greater the difficulty in bringing systems back up. Many residences and businesses are still without power.

Monday, 29 October 2007 23:20

Hugo Bulldozes Insured Losses To The Billions

Written by

Nearly three weeks have passed since that ‘tempestuous rage’ Hurricane Hugo slammed through Charleston, S.C. At the stroke of midnight on September 21, Hugo unleashed 135 m.p.h. winds, pushing a 12 to 17 foot wall of water that threatened to destroy everything in its path. Hurricane Hugo caused $3,984 million in insured losses, making it the costliest hurricane on record, according to estimates provided by C.E. Hermanson, vice president of Property Claim Services Division of the New York City-based American Insurance Service Group.

The PCS estimates includes destruction inflicted in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia, as well as the prior havoc it caused in the Caribbean Islands of Antigua, Barbados, Guadalupe, Monteserrat and portions of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Losses

The figure includes losses from personal property damage, damage to building and commerce, and damage to motor vehicles, boats, and various other insured expenses. It excludes damage covered by the National Flood Insurance Program of the Federal Insurance Administration. According to spokesperson, Samuel Schiff of PCS, flood losses covered by NFIP are estimated at an additional $500 million. Not included in the PCS estimate are losses involving marine and harbor facilities, aircraft, utility equipment, or public property, including roads and bridges, according to PCS manager, William Gilluly.

When a catastrophe strikes with such magnitude as Hugo did, and the insured losses are expected to exceed $5 million—PCS assigned Catastrophe Serial Number 18 to insured losses from Hurricane Hugo. That includes damage inflicted on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, as well as in the Carolinas, Georgia and Virginia.

Insurance Claims

According to Hermanson, insurance industry claims adjusters and specially trained catastrophe teams arrived in the affected areas as quickly as possible to respond immediately in handling the huge number of claims arising from Hugo. “The insurance adjusters began to settle claims immediately, making advance payments and providing assistance to storm victims in the recovery process,” said Hermanson. “Our best information is that the industry has an adequate number of adjusters in the area to cope with the situation as it now stands. As the need arises, additional experienced adjusters will be brought into the area.”

Fema

PCS is working in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the state insurance commissioner’s office, and the governor’s office to coordinate insurance company activities with the general recovery effort.

Estimated Damages

The heaviest insured damage, estimated at $2,553 million, occurred in South Carolina. According to PCS, hardest hit were the four coastal counties of Charleston, Horry, Georgetown and Berkely, where damage was estimated at $1.52 billion. Damage in North Carolina was estimated at $275 million, while insured losses in Georgia and Virginia were estimated at $1 million and $5 million respectively. In Puerto Rico, insured property losses were estimated at $700 million, and in the Virgin Islands losses were estimated at $450 million.

As a result of Hurricane Hugo, catastrophe losses through the first nine months of 1989 are estimated at $5,636 million. This makes 1989 the worst year on record for catastrophe losses, topping the old record of $2.82 billion set in 1985.

“The majority of people in the affected area have never experienced anything like this before,” said Gilluly, at a news conference in Columbia. “The insurance industry is moving as quickly as possible to speed the processing of all claims.”


Written by Diane Jones, a freelance writer

This article adapted from Vol. 2, No. 4, p. 6.

Hurricane Bob was the first hurricane to strike the northeast United States since Hurricane Gloria in 1985.

Bob strengthened to a hurricane on August 17, while centered 205 miles east of Daytona Beach, Florida. Bob moved parallel to the United States mid-Atlantic coast and headed toward New England. The hurricane passed over Long Island and crossed Rhode Island and Massachusetts, where it caused the most damage. It weakened and began losing tropical characteristics as it passed just offshore of the southern coast of Maine, where it ended as a tropical storm near Rockland, Maine on August 20.

Power was knocked out to an estimated 2.1 million homes and businesses primarily on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, on Long Island, and over portions of New England.

The American Insurance Association preliminary estimate of insured property damage is $780 million dollars. This includes $4 million for North Carolina, $75 million for New York, $40 million for Connecticut, $115 million for Rhode Island, $525 million for Massachusetts and $21 million for Maine.

The addition of flood claims, uninsured property damage and the cost of cleanup increases the total damage estimate from Hurricane Bob to $1.5 billion dollars. After adjustments for inflation, Bob will rank 13th or 14th on the costliest United States hurricane list.

Evacuations were confined to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the New England area. News reports indicated several thousand people did not evacuate low-lying areas on the Outer Banks.

If the eye had moved 30 to 40 miles west of the actual track in the Cape Hatteras area (NC), perhaps many of those people would have been isolated on those islands with limited services available.

Despite precautions taken, 18 deaths are associated with the hurricane, most of which were in the northeast.

From the Preliminary Hurricane Report, National Hurricane Center (305) 666-4612.


Stuart Johnson was an editor with Disaster Recovery Journal.

This article adapted from Vol. 4 #4.

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