Monday, July 02, 2012

Contingency Planning, Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity, My Personal Experience

What a week last week was.  For many in my immediate area of Woodland Park and Colorado Springs, CO, last week continues. It continues because more than 340 houses burned last week in a fire storm of epic proportions.  Although my home was spared and most of my friend’s homes were spared, you’d have a hard time finding anyone in Colorado Springs who doesn’t know someone who lost their home and everything in it last week.  A few guys who play hockey in one of my hockey leagues lost their homes.

Earlier last week, a LinkedIn connection of mine who lives in British Columbia Canada and who understands mountains, fire, wind, heat, low humidity and lack of rain sent me a message when he found out that my area of Colorado was at risk of burning.
At the time when this message first arrived, my home and business were both in pre-evacuation mode.  This means that at any time, should weather conditions change and the forest fire starts to run in our direction, we needed to be ready to evacuate. 

Well, as luck would dictate, the conditions we didn’t want to see occur did occur and we had to leave our home and business behind for several days while firefighters worked to contain the fire.  Today, the fire is 55% contained by the way. 

A few days later, this same LinkedIn connection in British Columbia sent another message after I let him know that we were on pre-evacuation status and we were ready to leave within an hour of receiving the reverse 911 call.  Here is what he wrote.

Most people or companies have no business continuity, disaster recovery or emergency management plans in place. The silver lining is that you are actually prepared to leave in 60 minutes. 

You should blog about this situation and about what is truly important in your life. I find that most Computer Security guys have no understanding of what is truly important to people or companies. To me, it's a simple question, "What could you never lose?"

I could lose every document I have, but I could never lose my family pictures or videos. For a company, it could be financial docs and the like... 

After having this experience, what have you realized is most important to you? 
Now that we’re back in our home and I’m back in my office, I can answer my LinkedIn connection’s question.  What is most important to us is what occupied our two vehicles.  I won’t bore you with the entire list but I’ll tell you it wasn’t stereo systems, furniture or TVs that made it into the cars.
Here is a partial list of what was most important to us:

  • Non-digital pictures
  • The flag from my father’s military funeral
  • Diplomas
  • Pictures and documents from my mother and father’s life before they both passed away
  • Kids elementary school projects that can’t be replaced
  • Enough clothing to get my family through a week without doing laundry if our house had burned down
  • A few computers and a box of electronic components related to my business
  • Mobile phones
  • Daily backups are out there to tap into if we had to start all over from scratch so we didn’t have to pack a bunch of file boxes of paper
  • Two crabs, two frogs, two hamsters and two fish
  • The dog, his dog crate, dog food and water
  • A few stuffed animals to comfort my little girls
  • Toiletries
  • Bikes on the bike racks
That’s about all that would fit into or on two vehicles.  We were off on a not-so-fun adventure.

Be Prepared

Whether you live in a location that floods, a location that could burn, a location that is prone to see tornados or an area that is likely to have earthquakes, hurricanes, etc., having a pre-determined idea of what is most important to you is something you should prepare for  now, not after it is too late.'s Security Recruiter Blog