Organization helps business cope with disaster

If you lost your business’ financial data to the May flood because you simply weren’t in the habit of bringing your backup drive home, then the first New Hampshire chapter meeting of NEDRIX on June 13 is being held a bit too late to help you.

But NEDRIX – the New England Disaster Recovery Information Exchange – hopes a state chapter will be in place in time to help businesses prepare a little better when the next disaster befalls them.

NEDRIX is made of people like Thomas P. Larvia Jr., a “certified continuity professional,” whose job it is make sure that a corporation like Raytheon stays up and running all over the globe despite hurricanes, fires and terrorist attacks. The hope, of course, is that disaster never strikes, but the reality is that large companies hire people full time whose job it is to imagine what to do in the worst possible scenarios. And there have been a lot of those lately – hurricanes, flooding, wildfires.

But small businesses don’t have certified continuity professionals on hand. And that, said Larvia, is where NEDRIX comes in.

NEDRIX has been around for the past 14 years to help businesses formulate such plans. But, Larvia said, because it has primarily been focused on Massachusetts, the businesses involved tended to be larger – at least by New Hampshire standards. So last year the group decided to set up chapters in the hinterland, to “break away about thinking about big companies,” Larvia said.

The idea is to focus on mom-and-pop stores to “hopefully make them prepared to help them survive,” he said.

At this point, NEDRIX-NH is totally volunteer and is just beginning to contact Rotary Clubs and chambers of commerce to set up educational programs focusing on what small business can do to prepare themselves in an emergency.

That doesn’t include just a sudden disaster like a devastating tornado, but also for more gradual disasters, like an epidemic. The SARS scare, for instance, caused 40 percent of Raytheon’s Toronto facility to stay home, and the concern is that an avian flu pandemic could wreck even more havoc on businesses.

The state Safety Department’s Division of Emergency Management also does this to some extent, but does not exclusively focus on business — “and being New Hampshire, they don’t always have the resources,” Larvia said.

NEDRIX doesn’t have unlimited resources either. It’s an all-volunteer organization that has “zero dollars,” said Larvia. One of the things the group needs to do is raise funds, perhaps tapping into some of the state’s homeland security dollars.

NEDRIX will be meeting all day beginning at 8 a.m. June 13 at the Sheraton Hotel in Nashua. A $125 fee covers breakfast and lunch. Workshops include the importance of data protection, communication and emergency notification software.

There will be a general session on extreme weather and on the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.

For more information, go to – BOB SANDERS

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