A report published by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) does a great job of distilling the key disaster management and contingency planning lessons learned from hurricane Katrina.
The report deserves a wider audience than the financial services industry since the lessons apply more broadly:
- Some organizations may not have anticipated or prepared for the extensive destruction and prolonged recovery period resulting from Hurricane Katrina.
- To be realistic, disaster drills should include all critical functions and areas.
- Anticipate disruptions in communications services, possibly for extended periods of time.
- Critical staff may not be able to reach their assigned recovery location.
- People are essential to the recovery of operations.
- Replacement supplies may be difficult to obtain during a protracted recovery period.
- Financial institutions' facilities could be damaged or destroyed, creating a need for alternate facilities.
- The location of any back-up site can be critical to successful recovery efforts.
- Processing transactions may be extremely difficult.
- Be prepared to operate in a "cash only" environment.
- The financial industry is dependent on numerous critical infrastructure sectors that potentially have competing interests.
- A financial institution's involvement in neighborhood, city, state, federal, and non-profit or volunteer programs can facilitate a community's recovery from a catastrophic event.