Documents secure in the event of a disaster?

This past September, disaster came a little too close for comfort here in Texas. After months of record drought and triple digit temperatures, conditions became dangerously perfect for wild fires. It was a Saturday afternoon and the wind was blowing 20 to 30 miles per hour. The temperature was a dry 102 and red flag warnings were posted about the potential threat of fire, just as they had been issued daily for months now.  

It was around 1:00 in the afternoon when I heard the first helicopter fly over my home in northern San Antonio. I could have easily ignored this had it not been for the second, third and fourth following directly behind it. As I walked outside to investigate, I quickly noticed that these helicopters were flying in to a massive wall of smoke and flames. The helicopters were sent in to deliver round after round of water in to a massive wildfire that was inaccessible from the ground. After a few minutes of shocked observation, I ran inside to check the local news for more information. It turns out that a utility truck had parked on some brush and ignited a 300+ acre fire just a mile away. Over 50 different fire crews were called in to the area and the situation was escalating by the minute due to high winds.

A few minutes later, we were notified that a mandatory evacuation was underway in the area.

With no time to spare, I grabbed three plastic storage containers and distributed them to my wife and son. Our plan was to focus only on items that could not be replaced. We had 5 to 10 minutes to do this before evacuation. Frantically, we were forced to decide in only a few moments what mattered most in our lives. The results were very interesting:

The vast majority of these bins were filled with documents, photos and external hard drives.

As we loaded the car, it occurred to me how difficult our lives could have been without the information contained in these bins. We had our tax information, loan documents, marriage licenses, birth certificates, passports, insurance information, account passwords, family photos, videos, etc. Many of these documents and files could not be reproduced easily and would have devastated our family if lost. The damage would have been much more so than the loss of our home or personal possessions.

I am happy to report that the fire was contained late that same evening and that only a few homes were burned. There were no deaths or injuries and the crisis was largely averted thanks to the relentless effort of our local fire departments.

I learned many lessons that day:

  1. Electronic files are far quicker and easier to gather up in a crisis.

  2. Having a centralized repository for documents is critical.

  3. Don’t wait for a disaster to have a disaster recovery plan.

  4. Follow the plan!

What would happen to you or your business if you lost all of your intellectual property, mission critical documents, personnel files, tax records, engineering drawings, contracts, etc.? The impact on a business would be much greater than a home because employees may not have the same motivation as a homeowner to protect intellectual property. Who would have the good sense to even try and save valuable documents? Who would know which ones and where they were located. All of this makes the need for a centrally organized, secure document management software in business more obvious and more essential then I had ever considered.

Kevin McArthur

Kevin McArthur serves as the VP of Sales for FileHold for the US. Kevin is a Certified Document Imaging Architect (CDIA+) and brings over 15 years of document management experience in helping customers make important purchase decisions on complex document management software. Contact him at [email protected].