Aug 272011

Hurricane Irene is about to hit New Jersey/New York area on Sunday August 28, 2011 and government and corporations are preparing for the worst. There are some lessons that Irene has already taught us.

Hurricane Irene 2011

Hurricane Irene 2011. Click to see higher resolution image

  1. A common event can bring together people – Have you noticed that now people have a common topic to talk about. Everyone is preparing for the same thing – what if the worst happens, let’s arrange supplies, seal windows, plan for evacuation etc. Same situation happens when a common event happens in office for example project party, external audit, fire drill or even bad boss. A common event can be a good team building tool.
  2. Fear of worst is worse than the worst – Irene is undoubtedly a big storm (~500 miles in tropical storm diameter and moving slowly ~10 mph), however, it is going to stay for only 24 hours in any area. People are piling up supplies for over a week. Yesterday, our local Walmart Store had run out of all sorts of drinking water viz. regular, sparkle, children water and even flavored water. There were queues on the register so long that a customer would take over an hour to check out. I expect that there will be a long queue at customer service on the coming week to return the extra merchandise that people have brought. Sometimes, we plan frantically in our projects just by the fear.
  3. Planning for disaster before-hand is better than at the last moment – There may be a plan for hurricane, earth quake or other disasters but the plan is hardly reviewed until disaster is at the door step. Many a times, late expenses are costlier than prior preparation. For example spending on safety checks (prior preparation) is cheaper than spending million dollars in law suits because of accidents (late expenses). We know disaster strikes, when, no one knows.
  4. Disaster management plan can be impractical – Corporations in New Jersey/New York are preparing for disaster management. Companies are setting up alternative sites for human resources to work if an office premise is rendered useless. However, will employees leave their home to work if they have to choose between work and family? Sometimes, disaster management plan can be impractical.

If you are in the path of Irene, how are you planning? How does your project plan or react during a disaster? Would you like to share your experience about any disastrous situation?

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