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Volume 32, Issue 3

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Monday, 26 January 2015 06:00

Business Continuity in Action

Written by  Vicki Thomas

Vicki-article-1-26"This is a major, potentially historic snowstorm for the Northeast and easily the biggest of the 2014-15 winter season so far," said weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce. "Expect extreme impacts from eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey through New England, peaking Monday night through Tuesday. Avoid all travel, as it will be extremely dangerous with blizzard or near-blizzard conditions likely.

"We're ready to respond to potential large-scale extended power outages and collapsed roofs," said Michael De Vulpillieres, American Red Cross spokesperson, in an interview with The Weather Channel. "We see a higher instance of home fires and more severe fires in extreme weather like this, so we really urge people to be as safe as possible when heating their homes."

"We're anticipating a really serious event here," said Peter Judge, spokesperson for Massachusetts Emergency Management, in an interview with The Weather Channel. "We're going to work hard to reach out to folks and make sure they understand the severity of this event."

"The folks out here realize that snow is on the way," said Matt DeLucia, reporter for WCAU-TV, in an interview with The Weather Channel. "We've been talking with transportation officials in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and they're in planning mode right now."

The Trenton Police Departmentissued a snow emergency Sunday, outlining the responsibilities of department personnel and emergency operation procedures during the snowstorm.

(From Winter Strom Juno Preparations Underway; Officials Warn Residents of Blizzard That Could Cripple Major Cities)

Flights have been cancelled for Monday and Tuesday. Officials are warning of road closures late Monday afternoon and are urging people to stay home. Store shelves are empty with people stocking up on food, water and household supplies. City buses are now equipped with winter tires and/or snow chains. Additional staff have been hired to help clear streets of snow. After school trips have been cancelled. Emergency shelters and housing are being prepped for higher-than-normal needs.

This all speaks to experience. Remembering what happened in the past and not wanting to experience it again. All too often we ignore or downplay winter weather warnings, chalking these up to being overzealous or too-cautious. But not this time. Why is this?

Is it better weather prediction technology? Is it social media and the Internet that allows for better communication? Is it pressure on local, municipal, and state governments to be prepared for disasters? Is it the past experiences and memories of other winter storms that turned out to be much worse than predicted? So what is it? Why is this storm different?

What we're reading now and seeing happen is literally business continuity in action:

  • Warnings from experts were communicated about an impending and potentially devastating snow storm.
  • Officials at all levels of government and representatives from community facilities, schools, hospitals, volunteer organizations, airlines, etc. responded and reacted.
  • News conferences were held to get the message out to everyone - newspaper, radio, television, social media, and push notifications were used to reach anyone who could be impacted and affected.
  • People listened, responded and are making sure they are prepared.

And now we wait. We wait to see what winter storm Juno brings to residents of the Eastern United States and Canada. We wait to see if these preparations will work. We wait to see if people will actually listen and stay home. We wait to see if city and community crews can respond to the predicted snowfall. We wait to see what will happen.

It will be many months before we fully understand if these preparations were the “right” things to do. But one thing is certain as we wait - doing something now is better than doing nothing and wishing we had. Those involved in the storm preparations likely don’t realize that they are implementing business continuity practices - but whatever you want to call it - these people clearly have a plan and are working to put it into place. What a relief it is to hear the news conferences, to see the Tweets, and to know that people are prepared.

(If you’re in the Eastern United States or Canada - please be safe.)

To read more about winter storm Juno, refer to these links: