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Using Telecommunications Collocation Providers for Disaster Recovery Support

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With some recent hurricane hits and near-misses, Leo A. Wrobel and Sharon M. Wrobel remind us about the advantages of using collocation services to get a disaster-struck facility back up and running.
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"We survived Ike!" These were some of the first words out of our friend Roger Scott's mouth on the morning of September 15, 2008. This was two days after Hurricane Ike had ravaged the city of Houston, Texas.

Actually, Roger, who is CEO of Cypress Telecommunications Corp. (d/b/a Cytel), did a little better than just survive—he prospered. Because he had thought in advance about disaster recovery planning, he also was in a position to help others who were less fortunate.

We live and work in Dallas, some 230 miles away from Houston. We were lucky in that Ike brought us very little wind and hardly any rain. The fact that this disaster happened so close to us, however, was a reminder that we hadn't written a hurricane article in a while. With storms like Ike and Gustav in recent memory, this is a good time for a refresher.

Let's start with Ike.

Sobering Statistics

Hurricane Ike scored a direct hit on the city of Houston, with the eye of the storm passing right over downtown. Houston is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the U.S. Ike was a strong Category 2 storm packing winds of around 110 miles an hour when it made landfall near Galveston. At the time of this writing (September 18, 2008), Galveston is still a ghost town, having been largely evacuated prior to the storm. Even so, some experts estimate that approximately 60,000 people never left and are still in the Galveston area. This situation is creating enormous logistical issues because mobility is a problem and getting food, water, and other essentials into the area is extraordinarily difficult. Somewhat further inland, of the 4.5 million residents of Houston, roughly 90% lost power. (As of this writing, the total number of customers without power is 1.29 million, or 57% of total customers.)

Downtown Houston took a pounding, with thousands of blown-out windows in its many high rises. According to various news sources, the 75-story, 1,002-foot JPMorgan Chase tower alone spewed out not only glass, but insulation, furniture, and computers. At the time of this writing, the city of Houston still has a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew, and 69 people have been arrested to date for looting.

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