Is your crisis plan ready? Sandy delivers a stark reminder

The devastating superstorm that walloped the East Coast brings home the point that disasters can come in many forms, and you need to protect your organization and your brand.

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Unfortunately, for much of the East Coast this week, this was not simply a scenario buried on page 47 of a dusty crisis plan tucked away on a bookshelf.

It was, and still is, resounding proof that every company, from the mom-and-pop store on the corner to the large Fortune 500 company, needs some sort of crisis preparedness and response plan.

In the nonstop media reports, public officials keep saying that nothing could have prepared them for Hurricane Sandy’s destruction. But the hallmarks of any crisis plan are the steps on how best to prepare and respond.

There were some high-profile failures in crisis preparedness this week. Most notable was the failure of generators at several New York and New Jersey hospitals. New York University Langone Medical Center had to evacuate all 215 of its patients when its power went out and both backup systems didn’t work.

This should have been covered in a crisis preparedness plan for these hospitals, especially given that the same problem came up during Hurricanes Katrina and Irene, as well as during other recent blackouts. It makes you wonder whether someone failed to review the plan and double-check the generators—or whether they even had plans.

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