Hurricane Irma Sebring, FL
She Was a Real B**CH.

Isn’t it amazing how one’s life can change in an instant.  What do you do when a CAT2 Hurricane runs wild over you? Gee, had a Hulk Hugan moment there. 🙂 Hurricane Irma could be the turning point in my life where I truly start to appreciate everything around me and the people who have […]

Isn’t it amazing how one’s life can change in an instant. 

What do you do when a CAT2 Hurricane runs wild over you?
Gee, had a Hulk Hugan moment there. 🙂

Hurricane Irma could be the turning point in my life where I truly start to appreciate everything around me and the people who have a positive impact on the life I lead.

Right now, it’s people like Clayton Arnold, Susan Macool, Gabe Clogston and a long list of others who have stepped up their game this week.  These are the people who worked long hours, took on extra responsibility and have shown endless dedication to our clients.  I truly appreciate you all.

Yes, Susan—You even took the time to clean out my fridge and freezer of thawing meat and other items from 4 days without power.

10:52 pm Eastern Time Sunday, Irma paid Sebring a visit. She wasn’t supposed to drop by, but she did—And uninvited!

Hurricane Irma Highlands County

She was like that rude family member who comes over, drinks all your beer, and leaves the empties lying around for you to clean up.  She also breaks your furniture, knocks out your TV and throws up, not in the bathroom, but all over your expensive bedroom set, where she crashed from partying too hard.

Irma, blew and blew and blew.

I woke up early on September 7th, thrusting the Ulistic business continuity strategy into play.  3 am and the wheels moved north and west.  You see, you have to go north in Florida before you go west.  The roads were clogged on I75 and I95, so we decided US98 was the best path.  We ended up in Mobile, AL, and right now, this is where we still sit.  Mobile is nice, not that I got to see any of it.

Fast forward to Sunday night, September 10th – the busiest Hurricane day on the calendar. IT was the anniversary of Hurricane Donna, that did much the same as Irma.  Donna just veered off to the Atlantic side of Florida versus taking a run up the western side of Florida, except for the bit where she went crazy and ran over Sebring and Highlands County.

Remember now, at this point we’re in Mobile, AL, running away from this angry woman named Irma.

Business Continuity works.  Ulistic is proof.

If another MSP tries to talk to me about data backup as a business continuity strategy, I am going to scream 🙂

Here’s what I did:

  1. We set up an SMS group with all of our staff. We found SMS to be very reliable in times like this.  Your business continuity plan needs to have all the cell numbers of all your staff members so you can communicate.
  2. During the storm, we texted every hour or so to make sure everyone was OK.
  3. We lost power first around 9 PM. Then the wind picked up and picked up and picked up.
  4. We all rode the storm out, trying to remain in constant communication with one another.
  5. After the storm, when we got the “all OK” from everyone, we went into recovery mode.
Hurricane Irma Sebring FLA

Courtesy: Mandy Sheridan

Here’s what I learn from my business continuity experience.

  1. There is absolutely no reason for any company today to have servers or phone systems on premise. I don’t care what excuse an IT company gives you.  There is zero reason for you to run a server on premise.  Companies like CloudJumper have robust systems allowing you to do almost anything in the cloud.  We use Office 365 (which is great), Jive Canada for our phones, and Basecamp for our file storage.  These are awesome solutions and worth every penny I pay for them.
  2. Make sure all “mission critical” people get the heck out of the way of the storm. Missy and I fled to Alabama and guess what? The company is still running today.  We are limping along with some of our key staff members just coming back online, but there is ZERO reason for mission-critical people not to leave the area.
  3. You can’t control the Internet, gasoline shortages, etc. Now, some guy on Facebook smartly advised me that I need a generator.  Great “smart ass.” Where am I going to get the fuel?  If I did have it running, how are people going to connect to the Internet when central offices and cell towers are without power or knocked on the ground?  Nice try. but we can’t control this. So, back to point 2—

Everyone out of dodge and fast.

  1. Now, this is super critical for MSPs to understand so I’m going to use ALL CAPS, ready? “THERE’S MORE TO BUSINESS CONTINUITY THAN BACKING UP DATA.” Want me to repeat that? There is more to business continuity than backing up data. Simple.  So, why are you all focused on cloud backups and stuff like that?  See point 1. Everything should be in the cloud anyway.

Hurricane Irma has changed me.  I think I’m a smarter business person because of it.  I never truly experienced anything like this in the past.  Sure, I was running a company in 2003 that was wiped out when Hurricane Juan roared ashore in Halifax in 2003.  ServeIT was a great little hosting company doing “Hosted Exchange” long before others even thought of it. But, Hurricane Juan ruined that.

Sebring Hurricane Irma

Courtesy: Joe Schirck III

As I write this, we are in day four of our recovery, with no news from Duke Energy when power is going to be resumed in Sebring.  Did I say that Sebring was hit very hard?  You will never see mention of it on the news anywhere.  But, according to some of our staff, Sebring looks like a war zone.  I guess that’s better than some of the spots in the Florida Keys that look like a nuclear bomb went off.  At least my house is still standing and in one piece. You can’t say that for places on the keys or in Naples.

I can sit back and count my blessing.  I’m truly thankful for our Ulistic employees who have gone the extra mile, those who cleaned out my freezer, those who opened their homes when the power came back on. Everyone on our team.

We are truly the BEST MSP MARKETING company out there, and still proud to call Sebring our home.


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