Revisiting NY two months after Hurricane Sandy

It’s  been nearly two months since hurricane Sandy visited the New York Metro area, laying waste to both seaside towns and critical infrastructure alike.   National media coverage has fallen off to a trickle but the debris piles and condemned buildings are a daily reminder for many that life has not returned to normal.

Many subways, roads, and bridges were unavailable after Sandy hit.

This was the topic of conversation with a friend of mine during a recent visit to New York. He has both the good fortune and headaches of running the IT and facilities for a large organization based in lower Manhattan. The storm was certainly not a surprise to anyone  allowing his team to ensure all the necessary contingencies were understood with back up systems tested and in proper working order.

Once the storm hit, the impact surprised even the most hardened New Yorker,  pushing all the plans my friend had implemented to the limit. Their preparation paid off with an “acceptable” level of impact from the storm (his words).

One aspect of their systems turned out to be much more critical than anyone on his team expected. This was the ability  to manage their systems with our cellular out of band gear. Even though the network survived, physical access to certain locations was limited by flooded subways, closed bridges, and debris in the street.  For a period of time his team was “flying blind” as he put it, but the out of band cellular connection allowed them to gain access. Interestingly,  cellular service in the NYC metro area was restored to near normal levels much faster than other services, allowing his team to perform critical tasks necessary to getting their network to back full operation.  We both raised a glass to that.