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Up Close and Personal: Leo's Office Disaster

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Following a record snowfall, Leo Wrobel discovered what it's like to learn that you're not quite as prepared for disaster as you thought you were. Learn from his experience, or you may be bound to repeat it.
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February 12, 2010: On that memorable Friday, the Dallas/Ft. Worth area of Texas received a whopping 14 inches of snow, doubling the previous record of 7 inches, which had stood for over 30 years. North Texans are comical when anything other than rain falls from the sky, especially when it lands on the highways. In this part of the country, if snow or ice falls, you stay at home. School is canceled here when someone even predicts snow or icefall.

When Preparations Pay Off

Speaking of 30 years, that's about how long I've been writing articles on preventing and recovering from catastrophic events, so you'd think that mine would be the best-prepared small office in the face of such a disaster. Indeed, we thought that was the case. While over a foot of the white stuff was falling right at the end of the work week, we were here in the office, marveling at Mother Nature. Then, just at close of business, the power went off. No problem: The office had a backup generator. We also had taken logical precautions in the form of an uninterruptible power system (UPS) for each individual workstation, as well as for key components in the telephone closet. We finished up the week's tasks and never missed a beat. So far, so good, right?

The power stayed off until late Saturday night, but all the while we maintained electricity and heat in the office by virtue of the generator. Even after leaving the office, we enjoyed the weekend, because our home also has a generator. (Snowstorms are rare in this part of the country, but thunderstorms are common. Since we often work from home, investing in a generator made sense.) We had recently shopped for groceries, so we had plenty of food and beer in the house. Life was good. How wonderful that we had outfoxed Mother Nature!

Or so we thought.

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