Tuesday 22nd August, 2018 is going to live in my memory forever. It was, to me, the most threatening shake up I have ever witnessed in my lifetime so far. As much as I can recall, I heard the creaking of a the school building next door. The building is large, and I could see the light poles shaking as the ground underneath moved. I had decided that the best place was outside in the back yard, a clear space. Really, I’m not going to stay inside to be trapped or hit by falling concrete or roof. I really felt my chances for survival was outside, so I grabbed my dad, old as he is, and literally pulled him out of the house. At the end of it he was quite shaken, and once I realized what we been through, I sort of got numbed.
Earthquake, unpredictable, sudden, frightening and massively powerful. A force that nothing can compare to. It is it’s own category.
The experience to live through that sort of ordeal, is simply mind-boggling. I could just imagine the chaos people would have experienced in their minds, not really knowing what to do, no matter if one was knowledgeable about survival tactics or not.
But the majority of people would have been caught somewhere away from home as it was a working day, early evening, when the commute back home would have started. Children would have been on vacation, at home, some supervised, some not. I wonder how they would have coped with this traumatic event.
As it was, the country didn’t suffer much physical damage, with a few buildings with glass windows being shattered. But generally speaking, Trinidad escaped with very little damage. Really, it could have been much, much worst.
Other countries had similar strength earthquakes with many, many times more damage and loss of life. The infrastructure, water and electricity remained intact.
But suppose the damage was much worse, as in other countries, with tremendous loss of life. What would have been the response, the reaction, the restoration and eventual return to some levels of comfort and normalcy.
Were the first responder ready, and do they have a plan?
Would the healthcare system been able to cope? What about the Fire Services, Law and order, food availability, etc.?
To date, almost two weeks ago since the earthquake, I have neither heard or seen any attempt by the first responders to sensitize the public as to how they will go about restoring services for citizens. This is important because people will need to plan and equip themselves adequately for the period of time between the event and the restoration of comfort and normalcy. People need to make or have their own disaster preparedness plan to survive and that will be influenced and enhanced greatly if the authorities can articulate a proper disaster recovery plan, themselves.
As a professional, it was always within my purview to engage in Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning so that the Business survives, recovers and resumes normalcy with a very specific period of time so as to ensure that resources were budgeted and in place to activate the plan.
In today’s world, where data reigns supreme, I wonder how many businesses have engaged in disaster recovery and business continuity planning and execution.
Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity are roadmaps for dealing with eventualities and must take the form of a 360 degree approach, and not just the financial aspect. The various components of the Balanced Scorecard can be superimposed on the Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning to ensure the bases are covered around from stakeholders to assets, to finances to health and safety, to construction and restoration of utilities just to name a few.
The events of the afternoon of Tuesday 22nd August 2018, is not just a wake up call, it’s an opportunity to take strategic planning to another level.
…and it’s time to step up!