Why backups are important…

and I am not just talking about backing up your data.  I am talking about having backup plans for emergencies.  And now that some time has passed I can talk about Hurricane Sandy and some of the terrible things that went wrong in New York and New Jersey.

It seems like a lot of people didn’t have any real emergency plans for an event of this magnitude.  As Kelly and I have talked about before, having a single option for communication is not a good plan.  And far too many people (now about 1 in 3) depend solely on their cell phone for all communications, forgoing a landline phone altogether.  That is something we will never, ever do.  Because any time you depend on one thing for something really important, it allows what we computer geeks call “single point of failure”, or SPOF.  That means a single failure can stop the whole system from working.  And for widespread disasters like Sandy, the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, it isn’t just a matter of going to your neighbor’s house or your cousin across town.   For an event of this magnitude, people had to worry about not only losing power to their own house, but widespread power outages to cell phone towers as well.  And there are some indicators that the cellular companies were not nearly as prepared as they could have been.  As much as a week after the storm, there were still people who had to find a working generator to charge their cell phone battery.  Some of the stories I listened to on NPR were just heartbreaking.  There was one story that really had me glued to the radio – Meals on Wheels trying to deliver food to homebound people living in skyscraper apartments with no working elevators.  Can you imagine what it must have been like for some of those people?  Imagine being stuck in a 20th floor apartment with no electricity, running out of food, not even having a way to flush your toilet?  Honestly, so many people are not at all prepared for something like this.  Many people can handle a few hours,  maybe a day or two, with no power, but many people went without power for a week.  Some people on Long Island still don’t have power after two weeks.

So the moral of the story is take some initiative and try to do some preparing.  There are a lot of resources out there to help you plan for the worst.  Take advantage of them.

-Geoff

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