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It goes without saying that you don’t want to be in the news for the wrong reason. And if you lived in the California towns of Marysville, Hallwood, Olivehurst/Linda, Plumas Lake, Gridley, Live Oak, Yuba City, or Wheatland you got that unfortunate experience recently.

If those names don’t sound familiar to you, here’s one that might ring a bigger bell: their close, upstream neighbor, Oroville, California.  That’s because the name Oroville has become synonymous now in national media with the nasty “oops” that happens when infrastructure is caught unaware. As USA Today described it: “from ‘no anticipated threat’ to 180,000 evacuated”.  Each of the towns named above were also evacuated due to the threat of a 30 foot wall of water battering everything downstream should the dam actually fail.

How could this happen? Well, it wasn’t for lack of warning: years ago critics warned that the Oroville dam could fail. And on Feb. 7 officials noticed that part of the main spillway, which carries water away from the reservoir created by the Oroville dam, had what amounted to a giant pothole. When this main spillway was shut off, the dam swiftly reached capacity. On that Saturday, water began cascading down the hillside that served as an emergency spillway.

Then, the emergency spillway began to erode, leading to the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people. And though these evacuees were allowed to go home  on Tuesday, February 14th, all remained under alert due to continued rain over the President’s Day weekend. More rain was forecast for the week of February 20th, with even more pressure expected on the dam.

Small comfort for these residents that officials claim the dam itself has ‘no problems;’ only the threat of “catastrophic failure” of the spillways.

 

(Dam) Disasters, just waiting to happen.

These major infrastructure components are like sleeping giants. Under normal circumstances they do their job without complaint, holding back or letting water flow on command. They power cities. They direct water ways. They make up the landscape. They don’t necessarily attract a lot of attention, until something goes wrong, and no one is prepared.

And that could be why they tend to appear lower on the list of “have to’s” on state budgets, country-wide. Dam regulations vary widely from state to state; money for repairs, inspections, or emergency plans is tight.

Lori Spragens, executive director of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials in Lexington, KY, reports “many dam safety programs in states are underfunded.” In fact, some 1,780 dams have made the Association’s ‘high hazard potential’ list – dams in dire need of repair, possibly not able to handle the next big snowmelt or downpour.

Bruce Alpert of the Butte County counsel put it this way – in the case of Oroville, officials had “essentially ignored what the governor said was critical to the state” with disastrous results.

The State of Some States’ Infrastructure:

  • A nation-wide dam inventory in 2013 showed a total of 2,241 dams, with more than ¾ having had no recorded inspections.
  • Alabama lacks any dam-safety program, and has not performed a dam inventory in more than 30 years.
  • Ohio is spending $260M on dam rehab—including spending on Buckeye Lake’s dam, which has nearly failed 4 times in the past 50 years
  • South Carolina was hit with a “thousand-year flood” in October of 2015, .

Dams across the USA sound like potential disasters in the making.  And despite all the attention being paid to Oroville, it seems the word “disaster” is almost always synonymous with “unexpected.” No one ever thinks a disaster is going to happen to them—until it is too late.

Disasters are a reality, and you (and your business) should be prepared. You need to think about what powers your business. What about your information infrastructure? Is it in good repair? Have you done your best to lower the risks of losing your data, or worse, your business, if disaster strikes close to home?

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Whether caused by dam failure, fire, or hurricane — could your business function today if you lost your ability to email?
  • Is your accounting system backed up?
  • What would happen if you lost your business records or client database?
  • Are your backups secure and in a separate geographical location? (After all, that second server you keep in the broom closet will be just as ruined as the main server if a dam breaks upstream from the office where you keep both.)

While good dam maintenance and repairs happen on the ground, good business risk mitigation takes place in the cloud.

Cloud solutions can not only back up vital data, but provide complete redundancy of all operations and infrastructure. They’re located in a separate geographic location definition, and today’s cloud solutions are more secure, and affordable, than ever.

Be Prepared, Protect Your Data

5i Solutions offers cloud-based document management solutions that ensure your business is prepared in the case of an emergency, and ready to handle all of the details of “business as usual”.  Your data is protected and stored in the 5i Cloud Vault, with encryption, network security, access logs, penetration testing, key management— you get total access control paired with total security.

Cloud storage with 5i Solutions can be robust enough to ensure complete service redundancy in the event of a disaster. Your backups have backups, and you won’t have to recreate the wheel if your main server accidentally gets crushed by one. And, best of all, 5i will tailor the solution to your current system and workflows.

Your business need never miss a minute— even in a dam disaster.

 

5i Solutions.  One single, secure point of intake, access, and storage.  One singular solution.

5i Solutions, Inc.

Learn more at http://5iSolutionsInc.com

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