Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Disaster Recovery Program

The earthquake that happened last week in Japan is overwhelming.  Everybody is rattled with the subsequent events.  And our office is one of those shaken by fear because we are partly Japanese-owned company... Actually, two of our bosses were there at that time it happened, and they said that our Tokyo office was significantly damaged as well.

It was a coincidence that the night before I learned about the news, I was with my groupmate discussing our case study in records management course.  And one subtopic that I was particularly uncertain  about was the disaster recovery plan.  It took me days to write the report and prepare the presentation. It was easy to state the problems and determine our objectives and goals, but figuring out a suitable disaster recovery program was hard. 

Then I wonder after looking at the aftermath of Japan's earthquake,  do they have a disaster recovery plan? 

It's a fact that disasters are inevitable.  There are people who attempted to tell future calamities, but nobody has been accurate about the place and date.   Like when a seismologiest forecast a forthcoming earthquake. He can only project particular region or time, but can't say the exact  date, place and intensity.  This shows that our intellect is still short to understand how the forces of nature works.  Many have tried. Probably a few came close to the phenomenon.

So how do we deal with it when it happens then?  No can really exactly what to do especially if you're caught by surprise.  I guess the best way, is to be ready and prepared at all times.  And when we say ready, we mean - having the tools and resources for the aftermath. 

It's surprising that when you google the word "disaster recovery plan", you'll see a bunch of IT-related computer recovery programs; including, the business-related recovery plans.  But none about disaster recovery for natural calamities.  Or maybe there is one out there, but no one has spread the word yet.

During one of our class in records management,  one organization named Belfor has spoken about records recovery program.  They've done a presentation on the Cayman Island's records recovery after it was hit by a devastating hurricane few years back.  They've shown a thorough presentation that I couldn't imagine how much extensive and tedious to do records recovery. It took them an exasperating 2 years to finish the whole work in reviving Cayman Island's vital records.  I was impressed with the results.  I'd say they are really experienced in this field, but probably took them many years to be fully trained, equipped and knowledgeable in this disaster recovery program... I bet they may be called to do records recovery too for Japan because of their expertise.

So I wonder, what if there's a disaster recovery group like Belfor to come during natural disasters like this one in Japan, and likewise the one in New Zealand.  Then perhaps it will bring great relief to the victims, and get assurance that a full rescue and recovery is underway.

With the frequent occurrence of natural disaster these days, this is probably a good idea. A world organization that looks only after natural disasters.   Just like the  UN Environmental Programme and the UNICEF World Hunger Program that's working only for that particular task  around the clock. And that this particular organization will provide all the training, resources and manpower before, during and the aftermath. 
Everybody knows that Japan is the most technologically advanced country, and the most emergency prepared citizens.  But still, this disaster has caught them off-guard.  And no one expected that their supplies would be depleting. 

I know the feeling of being in this predicament for my family when a great flood plagued Manila 2 years ago. My sister and I were just watching  and waiting for what's the next to come -  feeling so helpless.  And the hardest part they went through after the flood was the recovery period.  It took them a year to get back with their lives, with occasional fear of that same episode everytime an alarming storm threatens the country.
The signs are showing that the earth is extremely vulnerable, and another disaster may develop.  Where and when, we don't know.  But there's something we can do - gear ourselves with disaster readiness and recovery preparedness plan.

I thought I wouldn' find a disaster and emergency information website.  But here's one handy with resources and tips:   http://www.fema.gov/plan/index.shtm