Lessons Learned in Flood Recovery Still Paying Off Today

On June 13, 2008, the Cedar River (in Cedar Rapids, Iowa) crested to its highest level ever — 31.12 feet. And as flood waters penetrated 10 square miles (or 14 percent) of the city, 7,198 parcels were impacted, including 5,390 houses; more than 18,000 residents were dislocated; and 310 city facilities were damaged.

According to a recent http://business380.com article by editor Michael Chevy Castranova, three years later, the flood of 2008 is still providing affected businesses a number of lessons they won’t ever forget.

Open the Communication Lines

Diamond V. Mills, a manufacturer of animal and human nutrition additives, got production restarted only eight days after water devastated its headquarters and only production facility. How? Communication between the company’s leaders, managers and employees. According to CEO John Bloomhall, short- and long-term recovery needs were divided into specific tasks and assigned to teams. Daily meetings, and sometimes more often, were held to communicate progress. Employees clearly understood their roles and expectations.

According to Bloomhall, “Everyone realized more straightforward and frequent internal communication of goals and priorities would continue to benefit the company, even after the recovery period.”

The Art of Mobility

Henry Russell Bruce, a Cedar Rapids advertising and marketing agency, emerged from the flood waters with a new outlook: to transition to mobile computing and connectivity. President Steve Erickson told the Business380 that the company replaced most of its desktop computers with laptops. If another disaster strikes, employees can grab their laptops and get to safety.

Today, Erickson compares his business to a MASH unit. “We can pick up and leave at a moment’s notice and set up somewhere else,” he said as quoted by Castranova.

The company also switched from on-site servers to storing information remotely. And it reduced its use of paper copies and now scans most documents into PDF files to be stored on the remote servers.

Other businesses in the community changed after the flood. Some turned to outsourcing when it made sense, others identified weaknesses in their business continuity plans, and several businesses re-evaluated vendor relationships after the flood.

For more information about lessons learned following the 2008 Iowa flood, visit: http://business380.com/2011/06/12/lessons-learned-in-flood-recovery-still-paying-off-today/