In Katrina's wake: Tech companies focus on data recovery

Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts are drawing legions of IT experts to assist the Gulf Coast region with data restoration and business continuity services.

IBM Corp., SunGard Data Systems Inc., VeriCenter Inc. and other data recovery companies announced they are performing IT recovery operations for numerous clients in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The companies also are reaching out to other businesses that are seeking emergency help for restoring data and maintaining business operations.

SunGard of Wayne, Pa., mobilized its Crisis Management Center in Philadelphia last week to handle alerts and disaster declarations from clients in the Gulf region. During 2004, more than 770 companies used SunGard's services following four major hurricanes, and 12 companies moved personnel into SunGard's facilities to access data recovery resources.

IBM said it has reached out to its 125 clients in Katrina's path and is actively supporting several client recoveries, helping them transition from their production centers (applications, data, networks and personnel) to one of IBM's recovery centers across the United States.

Contractors donate space and money

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has taken over part of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s building at NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi to use as a command center. About 100 FEMA employees will direct relief work from the site.

Lockheed Martin will operate the building as an emergency shelter for employees and their families, bringing in generators, a portable kitchen and a shower unit.

Northrop Grumman Corp. donated $2 million to a hurricane relief fund, and Lockheed Martin created a $1 million Hurricane Katrina employee assistance fund.

Also, a command unit van equipped by Arinc Inc. of Annapolis, Md., for Anne Arundel County, Md., has been to sent to Mississippi to help agencies restore communications in the region.

The unit can convert radio, phone and cellular signals including network data into a common format, Arinc said. This enables interoperable communications regardless of the equipment being used.

Storm forces temporary shutdowns

Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. temporarily closed their Gulf Coast facilities following the region's devastation by Hurricane Katrina.

Lockheed Martin closed six of its facilities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and its New Orleans site is reported to be under water. The company's Stennis Space Center site will reopen this month, but Pascagoula, Miss., and Ponchatoula, La., sites will stay closed for weeks.

Northrop Grumman shuttered four sites, including two in Mississippi: in Pascagoula and Gulfport, which suffered heavy wind damage. Company employees were at work last week rebuilding both sites, which could open as early as this week.

Other company sites in New Orleans and Tallulah, La., will take longer to restore.

Feds scramble to counter Katrina

Within hours after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, federal agencies began mobilizing to send help, which arrived over the following days.

  • Army: Rushed satellite phones and other communications equipment to the area. 1st Army activated its 24-hour Crisis Action team and sent defense coordinating elements.

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency: Sent 39 disaster medical assistance teams, 18 urban search task forces, two incident support teams, and eight swift-water rescue teams.
  • Coast Guard:
  • Supported FEMA rescue efforts, activated three national strike teams to remove hazardous materials; 31,500 National Guard members supported civil authorities, provided generators, medical assistance and shelters.
  • Health and Human Services Department:
  • Put 415 public health service officers on standby for deployment.
  • Transportation Department: Sent 66 transportation experts to help state and local officials assess damage to highways, railroads, transit systems, ports and pipelines, and help plan detours and transportation repairs.

  • Agriculture: The Forest Service sent 10 management and logistical teams and seven 20-person crews.

  • Labor:Region VI sent its Emergency Response Team to Baton Rouge to help recovery workers and utility employers restore power.

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