The big news tonight here in Boston is a fire in the Back Bay that led to power going out in huge swaths of Boston. Apparently the fire started in a utility building containing two large transformers. In order to fight the fire, it was necessary to cut power to the transformers. That has now led to a power blackout in Back Bay, Prudential Center, Copley Square, Chinatown, the Theater District, and Kenmore Square. They are saying now on TV that they are allowing people to return to their homes but they have no idea when power will be restored to this area.
This sort of thing is not really predictable, obviously, and its unpredictability is one of the reasons why I believe in having a certain level of emergency preparedness. Kelly and I keep a landline phone, including one with a corded handset, just for this reason. If we lose power we have at least one phone that works. But we know people who don’t even have a landline phone, which means that anyone in there that depends exclusively on their cell phone for communication is probably going to have some problems. If cell sites are without power, then your cell phone is useless. And even if cell towers in the area are still working, your cell phone is only good until the battery runs out. Then you are out of luck, unless you have a Plan B. I would bet that most of those businesses did not have any plan in place to respond to a power outage either. Apparently most of the restaurants literally had to let everyone leave, even if they had not paid. This is why business continuity/disaster recovery plans are so important. Businesses lose money when they have no idea how to respond to an event like this. And this isn’t even a really significant event, relatively speaking, it’s just a widespread power outage. But if your business doesn’t even have the barest of bare bones emergency plans, no one is going to know what to do.