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Spring Journal

Volume 30, Issue 1

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Jon Seals

Jon Seals

BATON ROUGE, La. — The August floods that upended the lives of tens of thousands of families across 26 declared parishes also washed away the landmarks of their communities. Critical infrastructure like roads, bridges, public buildings and schools proved as vulnerable to flood waters as had the smallest bungalow.

As of March 1, FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program has obligated $304,315,474 to reimburse local and state governments as well as certain private nonprofits for the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure. The funds also cover debris removal and emergency response activities.

Among the eligible applicants is the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, which applied for more than $900,000 in FEMA grants. The Gonzales Environmental Enhancement Facility in Ascension Parish was deemed eligible to receive nearly $996,000, while the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will receive close to $596,000. Nearly $63,000 will go to parks and recreation facilities in East Baton Rouge, while additional funds have been earmarked for road repairs and public safety facilities in the declared parishes.  And a total of $60 million in grants has been obligated for repairing schools in eight parishes: Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Lafayette, Livingston, St. Landry, Tangipahoa and Vermillion.

The Public Assistance program offers supplemental financial assistance on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities in designated parishes. The PA program encourages protection of these damaged facilities from future events by providing assistance for certain hazard mitigation measures.

FEMA typically reimburses 75 percent of eligible PA expenses. But, because of the magnitude of the disaster, the agency will reimburse 90 percent of eligible expenses. FEMA pays the federal portion to the state which then disburses the funds to the applicants.

Hattiesburg, Miss. – While Mississippi survivors could not stop the January 20-21 severe storms and tornadoes from hammering Forrest, Lamar, Perry and Lauderdale counties, there is plenty those with losses can do – with the help of state and federal disaster assistance – to speed their personal recovery:

Register and File:

The first step is to contact FEMA and register for disaster assistance. Survivors can contact FEMA online at DisasterAssistance.gov, or by phone at 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585.  Multilingual operators are available.

State and federal disaster assistance is meant to help people pay for necessities and start to get back on their feet. Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for emergency repairs to damaged homes, temporary housing, or other serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance or other sources.

Register even if you are insured. Your insurance coverage may not be adequate to cover all of your losses. If you have insurance, it’s important to contact your insurance agent to begin filing an insurance claim. Also: remember to update FEMA once you receive the settlement from your insurance company.

While the deadline to register is March 27, the longer you wait to register to see if you qualify for disaster assistance, the more you delay your personal recovery.

After You Register:

Read all FEMA letters and documents. After registering with FEMA, you will get a letter telling you the outcome of your application. Make sure you read the letter completely and carefully.  At times, all that’s needed is for you to submit additional information.

Remember, you also have the right to appeal FEMA’s decision. 

Federal assistance may have to be repaid if it is duplicated by insurance or other assistance received.

Call the FEMA Helpline to keep your information up to date. Call 800-621-3362 to:

  • Ask questions about FEMA determination letters.
  • Learn how to appeal FEMA’s determination. All applicants have the right to appeal.
  • Inquire about the status of a registration.
  • Provide change of address, telephone and bank account numbers and insurance information to avoid disaster assistance processing delays.
  • Receive information about FEMA home inspections.
  • Get other questions answered about federal disaster assistance

If it’s offered, complete and return the SBA loan application (SBA loans are not just for businesses). If you are contacted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and given the opportunity to apply for a low-interest SBA disaster loan, you should fill out the application and return it as soon as possible. As of March 5, SBA had approved 88 loans for nearly $4.8 million.

Not everyone who applies qualifies for FEMA disaster assistance grants, so submitting the SBA loan application, is important. Even if you don’t think you need nor want a loan, an SBA loan may be the key to your recovery by helping you pay for repairs and replacement of lost possessions.

If you qualify, SBA will work with you to develop a loan that you can manage, possibly by combining your existing home loan with the SBA loan into a new home loan.

Homeowners and renters who don’t qualify for an SBA loan will be referred back to FEMA for possible consideration of other grants opportunities.  However, if you don’t submit the loan application, you halt the FEMA assistance process.

Be Smart In Your Recovery:

Choose a licensed contractor. Take time to carefully choose a contractor for repairs by demanding written estimates, following up with references and checking with local licensing authorities to see if the contractor is licensed in your community. Tips for persons seeking a licensed contractor and how to hire one are found at Mississippi State Board of Contractors under the Consumers tab or call 601-354-6161 or (800) 880-6161.

Ask for a written estimate. Make sure it includes everything you expect the contractor to do. Also, find out up-front if the contractor will charge a fee for that estimate.

Get a written contract. The contract should clearly state all work, costs and the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. It may also be worthwhile to have an attorney look at the contract before signing it.

For more information on Mississippi’s tornado recovery, go to fema.gov/disaster/4295 or visit the MEMA site at msema.org. Follow MEMA on Facebook facebook.com/msemaorg and on Twitter @msema.

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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.

All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585(TTY/TDD).

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

In this age of big data, business analytics are likely to form an increasingly large part of business continuity planning and management.

By querying different data sources, internal and external to an enterprise, BC managers can hope to identify current risk, opportunity, and business trends, predict what might happen tomorrow, and even generate recommendations about what to do about it today.

The potential of business analytics to help enterprises survive and thrive is clear.

What is less clear is whether there is any possibility to perform them without having to hire an army of IT specialists and data scientists. But advances in chatbot technology might offer a better solution.

...

http://www.opscentre.com/business-continuity-analytics-chatbots/

Recently, I have been attending quite a few meetings regarding contingencies required for the implementation of a large project initiative.  Because it’s a new initiative and many users aren’t even assigned an ID yet to use these new systems and applications, it’s a bit hard for them to know what contingency strategies are required for insertion into their Business Continuity Plan (BCP).    But that’s OK because there are still options at their fingertips.

In some instances, like the one noted above, you may have to wait for direction from the Crisis Management Team (CMT) or triage team or support team – whoever is managing the situation.  Until you receive that direction your immediate response – or contingency response – is to hold off on activities and wait.  It may seem odd but that is your short term contingency until provided other guidance.    Even though doing nothing isn’t usually an acceptable response sometimes it’s the only response available when you’re waiting for direction from the Crisis Management Team (CMT) or some other group that provides your area with direction and guidance.

Doing nothing is actually doing something.  You may not be able to process a payment or send a file on to its next destination but by doing either one of those, you are actually performing a task; you’re holding and waiting until you can continue.  But even if that is your option, it’ll only be for a short duration because if it turns out its going to be a longer outage, you may need consider additional activities to implement if you receive word your application and/or system will be done longer than the acceptable outage period.  So your BCP should contain short and long term contingency strategies.

...

https://stoneroad.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/bcmdr-bcp-strategies-from-nothing-to-business-as-usual/

New Release of DataSphere Software Automates the Flow of Data to Maximize Performance and Savings Across Scale-out NAS Workloads, Easily Integrates Existing Storage with the Cloud, and Provides File and Client Visibility Across Different Vendors’ Storage Systems

LOS ALTOS, Calif.Primary Data today announced powerful new features that transform its DataSphere software platform into a metadata engine that automates the flow of data to help enterprises meet evolving application demands at petabyte scale. Released today, DataSphere 1.2 optimizes scale-out NAS for performance without bottlenecks, integrates easily with the cloud, automates data management, and provides client and file visibility with billions of files hosted across different storage systems.

“With DataSphere, customers are able to cut overprovisioning costs by up to 50 percent, and those savings easily run into the millions when you are managing petabytes of data,” said Lance Smith, Primary Data CEO. “In today’s 1.2 release, DataSphere has taken another step forward, automating the management of over a billion files as an enterprise metadata engine. With DataSphere, enterprises can significantly accelerate performance, overcome vendor lock-in, and easily leverage the cloud to maximize both savings and efficiency.”

The updates to DataSphere 1.2 evolve the platform from its early focus serving Test and Dev environments to meeting demanding enterprise production requirements with the scalability, widespread platform support, reliability, availability and serviceability needed to finally automate the flow of data to the right storage at the right time. Customer-driven features and capabilities enable DataSphere to serve diverse enterprise environments with a resilient, enterprise-ready platform with robust data services. New features in DataSphere 1.2 include:

  • Enterprise scalability with automated management of billions of files enables companies to serve and manage data at petabyte scale
  • Supercharge scale-out NAS performance for unstructured data and other NAS workloads with vendor-agnostic support for Dell EMC Isilon and NetApp ONTAP solutions
  • Accelerate cloud access with direct interfaces for Amazon S3 and compatible cloud platforms; scale cloud uploads and downloads linearly while preserving the namespace for applications
  • Serve diverse enterprise environments with expanded support for Linux, Mac and Windows, including Linux, macOS, and SMB support for Windows Server 2008/Windows 7 and later
  • Enterprise reliability, accessibility and serviceability, including non-disruptive H/A failover and volume retrieval ensures rapid recovery without impact to ongoing I/O processing to ensure recovery without interruption
  • Enhanced data services, including offloaded cloning directly from clients preserves application performance and optimizes capacity usage
  • Visibility into file and client performance with hot file visibility; real-time performance graphs across different storage resources visible on user dashboard
  • Faster performance with advanced metadata algorithm intelligence and resource usage while continuing to maintain client I/O even while data is in flight

“Automating the flow of enterprise data with a metadata engine like DataSphere is essential now that we create so much data every day,” said Steve Wozniak, Primary Data Chief Scientist. “Some data is hot and valuable, while other data quickly gets cold and needs to be kept somewhere that will keep costs low. DataSphere automatically makes sure the storage you have is always serving the right data, and makes it easy to add new resources like the cloud, even when you are managing billions of files. Simplicity like this isn’t easy to achieve, but once you find a better way, you wonder what you used to do without it.”

DataSphere enables enterprises to place the right data on the right storage at the right time across enterprise infrastructure and the cloud to automatically meet evolving application demands without interruption. The DataSphere software platform virtualizes data by splitting the control path from the data path, separating data from the underlying storage so that it can be managed independently of hardware.

By creating a global namespace that spans cloud, shared and local storage, DataSphere helps enterprises overcome performance bottlenecks without buying new hardware. DataSphere’s powerful policy engine flows data to the ideal storage resource to automatically meet performance, price and protection requirements. In addition, DataSphere can monitor and move cold data to lower cost tiers like the cloud while maintaining accessibility. Moving files to fast flash resources accelerates performance and optimizes existing storage investments without disrupting applications.

“Primary Data’s updates to DataSphere 1.2 provides a metadata engine with the scale and reliance to automate insight across heterogeneous storage environments with billions of files,” said Jeff Kato, Senior Analyst, The Taneja Group. “The ability to harmonize and modernize capabilities across diverse types of traditional storage while still improving overall performance and efficiency is a unique approach in the enterprise market today.”

DataSphere is now available from Primary Data and its reseller partners. To learn more, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About Primary Data

Primary Data automates the flow of data to ensure the right data is in the right place at the right time across enterprise infrastructure and the cloud to meet evolving application demands with its DataSphere platform. The storage and vendor-agnostic DataSphere architecture is based on a metadata engine that automatically moves data to the most appropriate resource to meet data requirements without application interruption. DataSphere helps enterprises overcome performance bottlenecks, integrate with the cloud for savings and active archival, and easily adopt new resources from any vendor. DataSphere enables customers to reduce overprovisioning by up to 50 percent, generating savings that easily run into the millions for enterprises operating at petabyte scale. To learn more, visit us at www.primarydata.com or follow us on Twitter at @Primary_Data.