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Tropical Storm Imelda from the Perspective of a Local Business: How We Kept Operating Despite the Flooding

Tropical Rainstorm Imelda brought rising floodwaters that left several communities and many roads submerged in 2-3 feet of water throughout Southeastern Texas last week. The slow-moving rain was devastating with relentless torrential rain – prompting hundreds of water rescues throughout the region. Officials said over 1,600 vehicles had to be towed from the streets and more than 1,000 people had to be rescued or evacuated. For many local businesses, such a massive rainstorm made it impossible to continue operating as usual. In fact, a large number of businesses were closed for much of the week. 

How Does a Tropical Rainstorm Impact Companies with a Business Continuity Plan in Place?

Those who have a business continuity plan in place are typically able to continue working as usual. If it’s safe to be in the office, they’re able to work there. If it’s not safe, they’re able to work from a remote location. Essentially, a business continuity plan keeps your technology accessible and functioning at peak performance, as long as there is no damage to the equipment or premises. 

Naturally, as an IT company that provides a range of technology services, we were fortunate enough to have a business continuity solution in place. We were able to handle the disaster services for our own office during the rainstorm. How did we manage to keep operating? 

  • Two help desk professionals (one VoIP specialist and one IT specialist) worked from home during the storm as they lived the furthest away from the office. They leveraged an app on their phones and the softphone on their laptops to receive phone calls. They also accessed all of their data via the cloud. 
  • All sales professionals worked from home and utilized simultaneous ring to their mobile devices, as well as SalesForce with Office 365 for email. This enabled them to stay in touch with prospects and clients as needed. 

Our customer service agents came to the office because they lived close. But the members of our team who didn’t live close and would have been at risk driving into the office were able to continue working at home as needed. This was essential in enabling us to continue serving our clients, especially those who are local and required assistance or had questions about the business continuity solutions they had in place. 

What About When the Tropical Rainstorm Started to Flash Flood in Our Area?

On Wednesday, the tropical rainstorm moved into our area of town – bringing flash flooding with it. This was unexpected, and out of the 4 exits to leave our office, 2 of them ended up blocked with flooding. We did the following: 

  • Sent all office staff and one customer service agent home, then waited for her to log in and take calls/receive emails. 
  • Once our customer service agent arrived safely at home, all other agents were sent home. 

This allowed everyone to arrive home before flooding became an issue in their area. All customer calls and emails were answered and customers had no idea that our staff was working remotely. Since we have everything moved to the cloud, we didn’t have to worry about: 

  • Power outages at the office
  • Dial tone outages at the office
  • Internet outages at the office 

As long as we did not experience a city-wide Internet or power outage, we could receive calls and emails, create tickets and quotes, and access our customers’ servers and phone systems remotely. The only thing that was limited was on-site service. What would have happened if we did have a city-wide Internet or power issues? 

Calls simply would have been forwarded to one of our remote locations and they would have handled the calls there. We try not to do this since it would add to their normal workload and they are not familiar with the clients.

Need a business continuity solution to keep you operational when a natural disaster occurs? Contact us.

  •   Jason Simons
  •   Sep 25, 2019

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