Calm down Sandy! Calm down!!

Sandy continues to unleash its raw fury tonight.

Over 14,000 flights had been cancelled ahead of the landfall. Once it crashed ashore, it brought calamity of unknown proportions. 10,000 calls were being received every half hour in NYC to 911. The subway seems to be submerged 4 feet under water, and there are conflicting reports of 3 feet of water on the floor of NYSE. Millions of homes are without electricity. Cars are floating on streets and the high tide only made the situation worse (water since then seems to be receding in NYC). There is a snapped crane dangerously hanging and swinging at 90-storey skyscraper and no one can do anything about it. JFK Airport is closed due to flooding. Seawater has entered close to a mile in Atlantic City.

Ten more states are bracing for the worst natural disaster of our times.

20% of US population will be affected by Sandy.

No one really knows how long the ordeal will continue before it eventually abates. We can only hope and pray for safety of millions of affected people.

For a Category 1 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, the impact is simply too humongous to imagine.

This is unprecedented, unthinkable and perhaps un-plannable from a disaster recovery, let alone disaster avoidance, mitigation or planning.

Watching it all unfold live on news channels, I only wish it were a scene from a Hollywood movie. Sadly, this is all happening for real.

However, the real challenge will begin when it is all over and the sun is out.

Millions and millions of gallons of water will have to be pumped out of the subways – only after when the power has been restored. Until then traffic can’t start and people can’t get to work. NYSE is the virtual center of global financial markets and if the reports of water flooding in NYSE are true, it could take days or weeks before it is business as usual. Global businesses could take significant hit in the aftermath of this superstorm.

It will perhaps cost over $10Billion in insurance losses – and perhaps much more for losses that might not have been insured, not to mention the time it will take to clean-up all the mess and restore normal life.

As a project management professional, following days and weeks will be a great learning in how do civic authorities and people deal with reconstruction efforts. Surely, new ideas will emerge in BCP (Business Continuity Planning) and DR (Disaster Recovery) of critical business functions. There will be better insights into how to improve preparedness, both of systems and also for people, to deal with such unavoidable disasters. I hope to share some more of my own learnings in a subsequent post.

But for now, calm down Sandy! Calm down!!

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