The holiday season is already a hectic time for most businesses, but companies in the Midwest have had matters complicated further by a series of major storms that have raged for the better part of this week. The blizzard's damaging impact stresses the critical nature of business continuity planning that takes the timing and severity of storms into consideration.
Reports indicate a widespread winter storm hit the Midwest hardest on Thursday, resulting in at least three deaths in Iowa and potentially more in Nebraska, Kansas and Wisconsin.
Furthermore, data shows that 600 flights were canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Hundreds more flights were grounded at airports across the region, crippling air travel at a time when many individuals are flying around the country for the holidays.
More than 19 inches of snow effectively immobilized residents of Madison, Wisconsin, and highway pileups made driving treacherous in Iowa. Authorities in that state warned that some roads were impassable with anything less than an all-terrain vehicle, and highways that have been plowed were nonetheless unsafe due to low visibility and poor traction.
Ultimately, the strain to regional businesses and municipalities could be severe, particularly if officials in charge have not taken steps to identify a disaster recovery approach. Given that some workers may already be out of the office due to the holiday season, companies devising a business continuity plan should consider how the organization would maintain operations with lower-than-normal resource availability and restricted employee travel.
Strong municipal planning is also crucial at a time when such large portions of a region are crippled by a severe storm. Authorities should understand that continuity of operations planning should always take certain variables into account, like the availability of roads for increased travel during the holidays.