How well can your organization deal with an emergency? Automatically sign up for our free Disaster Recovery newsletter, delivered each Tuesday, and make sure you’re prepared for the next catastrophe.

Continuing with this month’s theme of natural disaster recovery, this
week we look at floods. To date, there are few systems designed to work properly in
such adverse conditions; most will short out or have other anomalous reactions
to getting wet, much less being underwater. So, once again, you’re going to be
left only with recovery options in most cases.

Preventive steps

Backing up and/or replication of data to an off-site
location is mandatory here, just as it is for most Disaster Recovery (DR)
operations. This is a great first step to be taken, and generally a cost-effective
method of protecting your organization. Off-site storage of the data is just as
important as the backup itself, particularly if you live in a flood plain. In
the case of floods, the disaster tends to be far-reaching, affecting entire
groups of buildings or even cities. Since any tapes or other backup systems
located within the flood zone will be either inaccessible or possibly damaged
or destroyed, keeping the tapes and other systems in the same physical location
as the protected systems is inadvisable.

Flood disaster recovery

Recovery will be a two-phased approach in the case of a
flood. Immediately, you may need to restore data and/or fail over data systems
to another location. This should be judged based on the priority of the data in
question and how long the company can go without having access to it. Keep in
mind that your employees in the same location will have left the area, and
therefore don’t have access to their terminals and workstations, giving you more
time to restore operations. Once you’ve found where you will restore to (a step
that can be planned out well beforehand), you can then get in the required
hardware, set up your systems, and restore the data. Often, you can have
secondary systems read to go at another location, or have hardware
manufacturers ready to ship express to your new site.

If your backup/failover plan wasn’t leakproof, there are
also professional
data recovery services
available that specialize in restoring data from
damaged hard drives—including those exposed to flood, fire,
and even mudslides
.

Putting it all back together

After the restoration and recovery in the short term, you
will need to determine how you will restore moving forward. Unlike fire and other
disasters, floods often leave behind the basic infrastructure after the waters
recede. It’s entirely possible that you can return to your old offices and
begin to put things back together again. While most of your equipment will be a
loss, you may be able to salvage anything that was above the water line when
the flood came and went.

In addition, you will need to decide if you want to replace
the damaged equipment with new supplies, or if you would prefer to move your
secondary equipment into the primary location. If the flood did destroy your
primary location, you will have to determine where you will rebuild—which is
generally a decision not left up to the technology staff. Once the decision has
been made, however, the technical personnel will have to find a way to get the
data systems up and running in the new location with as little down-time as
possible.

Flood waters come and go, and leave devastation and
destruction in their wake. Preparation and backup are your two greatest weapons
to battle back against a rising tide.