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If disaster strikes, will you be ready?

By Julie Perrine posted Jun 17, 2011 4:29 PM


As I watch the television news with all of the Mississippi River and Missiouri River flooding over the past few weeks, my mind flashes back to the spring of 2008 when the flood waters ripped through the city where I live.  It’s truly mind boggling to grasp how much damage water can do when it’s associated with a flood. While my home was safe from the flood waters in 2008, many of the companies that I supported were directly hit. (My current office is located in the flooded 8-story building pictured here. The entire first floor was FULL of water!) 

I watched in amazement as some companies quickly pulled together their vital files and computers and setup operations in remote facilities without any interruption of service.  Others were not so prepared.  Because of delayed responses, lack of planning, and no processes and procedures for this type of event, some companies lost way more than others.  But at the heart of most disaster recovery operations – no matter which company you looked at – were the administrative professionals!  If disaster were to strike your company, would you be prepared to step into a leadership role of guiding and supporting them through the disaster response?

Disasters come in all forms and levels of severity: floods, fires, power outages, ice storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, server failures, hackers, burst pipes, and many more.  Some disasters are worse than others.  Each disaster requires a different type of response effort.  But companies that successfully recover from disasters are typically companies that have prepared for them to begin with. Here are a couple of pretty alarming statistics: 

If you’re an employee in of these companies, lack of planning could quite possibly put everyone out of a job.

Whether your company currently has a formal disaster recovery plan in place or not, here are some things you can do right now to proactively prepare yourself and your company if disaster strikes.

  1. Find out if your company has a disaster recovery plan.  If so, ask if you can get a copy of the plan.  Read it and familiarize yourself with what it contains.  If you have questions, ask them.  You may very well identify gaps or holes that should be addressed.  Don’t be afraid to speak up. 
  2. Educate yourself on Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and Disaster Recovery Planning.  I’d start with these awesome sites:
  3. Download, print, and assemble in a binder all of the free templates and files from Use these as your personal guide to creating your own disaster recovery plan/kit.  Even if your company has a “master disaster recovery plan”, you still should create an individual plan for your position/team if one doesn’t already exist.


  4. Start creating a disaster recovery plan for yourself and your immediate team. For starters, you’ll want to include:
    • Emergency Contact Lists – company executives, team members, home phones, cell phones, email addresses, etc.
    • Key Vendors/Suppliers Contact Lists – names, emails, office phones, cell phones, etc.
    • List of vital files, paperwork, equipment, machines you’d need to work remotely
    • Contingency plans for fire vs. water vs. power loss emergencies. E.g. In case of fire, you might need to act or do things differently than you would with a power outage.


  5. Share your plan with your team and get their feedback and ideas on how to make it better or more complete.  Once you’ve taken the initiative to get things rolling, stick with it until you have it fully assembled.  Then make sure everyone on your team knows the procedures and has access to the information you’ve assembled in case of emergency!

You don’t have to be given the directive from your executive to develop your own disaster recovery plan. Take the initiative and create something on your own.  It doesn’t have to be perfect. But you MUST have a plan.  The admins at the center of keeping business operations running smoothly with flood waters raging through our city were the ones who acted quickly and with purpose. They were the ones who knew they needed to get to Sam’s Club before every other business in town to purchase folding tables to serve as makeshift desks for the next six months. They were the ones who had administrative procedures binders ready with emergency contact lists and key supplier contacts at their fingertips. They were the administrative professionals who didn’t wait for someone to tell them it needed to be done…they just did it! 

If disaster strikes, will you be ready?

© 2011 Julie Perrine International, LLC

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Julie Perrine, CPS/CAP, is a personality strategist, personal brand analyst, and administrative mentor who teaches administrative professionals and entrepreneurs how to increase their professional opportunities and achieve more productive and meaningful relationships by utilizing innovative technology, ideas, and people. Learn more and request your FREE copy of our special report “Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at