For 15 years my mother called Ludlow, Vt., home. Aside from it being a winter sports paradise with Okemo Mountain, one of its residents was also the recipient of the nation's first-ever issued Social Security check back in 1940.

But I digress.

In the time she lived there, she had seen a number of snowfalls approach three feet, howling ice storms, the occasional avalanche and annual slopfest known as mud season.

But until last week, you would have assumed that hurricanes and tropical storms in the Green Mountain State did not merit the ongoing attention they would have in, say, Corpus Christi, Texas, or South Florida.

That was to say until Hurricane Irene battered the Eastern seaboard last weekend (and left yours truly without power for 60 hours and one less dogwood tree) and transformed the quaint Vermont town into a virtual backdrop for a Jacques Cousteau documentary.

Which brings me to this week's topic: disaster recovery. It's an issue we've covered more than a few times within our publications over the years - beginning with a cover story on one accounting firm in the aftermath of 9-11.

Since the Northeast is home to a great many CPA firms - New York and New Jersey in particular - many lost power or unhappily discovered fresh trout streams where their offices used to be. But a number of practices managed to sidestep potential catastrophes by having well-orchestrated emergency plans in place.

Many firms reported having several backup systems (both onsite and offsite) for client files, and with the advent of the cloud, technology has become an inarguable part of disaster recovery.

Proactive IT departments had previously moved firms to cloud systems thereby giving everyone in the firm access to client files and databases - even if they have to work from an unaffected area with working WiFi like a Starbucks or Barnes & Noble.

Firms also had defined personnel responsibilities in the case of an emergency, specifically who does what and when - both pre- and- post-disaster.

But even the most sophisticated plan is worthless if doesn't work. A plan has to be tested periodically throughout the year, even when it's 80 degrees and sunny.

As one technology consultant told me several years ago, it does not have to be a hurricane or an earthquake that puts you at risk and threatens your business. A burst water pipe, or an electrical fire, can accomplish that just as quickly and easily.

Since power outages in my house are now safely into double digits since we've lived there and I still haven't gotten around to buying a back-up generator, I'm hardly one to be pointing fingers.

But with all that's available in disaster recovery prevention, there's little excuse not to plan effectively.

After all, few thought "Vermont" and "hurricane" would ever be mentioned in the same sentence.

 

 

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