house damaged by sandy1One of the most compelling presentations during the IAEM conference this year was from Larry Zacarese of Stony Brook University on “Super Storm Sandy – Impacts, Response, and Recovery”.  He noted that 6 days out they were informed that the storm “could” have an impact on the university.  That warning started a chain of events where the university proactively took steps to prepare for and respond to the disaster.  Their Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was operational for 15 days, and issued 15 major alerts, as well as posting 23 major updates to their websites.  They only cancelled 5 days of classes despite the massive damage that the storm caused to the surrounding region.  One of the key takeaways from his session was the need for redundant communications and continuity of operations procedures.  There were  3 ISPs down for 27 hours, and their redundant system was inaccessible, due to incorrect security protocols.  Individuals, families, and organizations need to plan for loss of communications, and have multiple methods of reestablishing communications.  By planning for the loss of primary communications channels, we can be better prepared for disasters.