NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
According to Ready.gov, National Preparedness Month, recognized each September, serves as a reminder that we all must prepare ourselves and our families now and throughout the year.
That preparation can, and should, include personal and professional planning.
During Hurricane Katrina, many federal employees in the New Orleans area had to evacuate both their homes and workplaces.
As one National Finance Center employee found out, the job didn’t stop in the event of this national weather disaster.
The National Finance Center, with operations just outside of New Orleans, performs payroll functions for about a third of the non-DOD federal workforce, similar to Defense Finance and Accounting Services for DoD employees.
As Katrina approached, evacuation orders were issued and Continuity of Operations (COOP) plans were activated.
The employee, an Emergency Relocation Group member, was faced with the task of relocating the mission, while also preparing his home for a storm and evacuating his family.
Responsible for the operation’s data center, he collected backup tapes and other essential items to be taken upon evacuation. (Yes, they needed backup tapes, even in 2005).
He then drove home and helped his wife move furniture to the upper floor and pack their two children and as much as possible in her car.
She evacuated to a family member’s home to the west while he returned to the Center, retrieved the vital records and drove two days to the COOP site in the northeast.
We all got paid on time. Their home was flooded and damaged, but repairable.
He indicated that both the family and the office spoke frequently and planned for such a scenario, and that if they had not, there was no way they could have performed everything that needed to get accomplished ahead of the storm.
In fact, written plans were not really looked at for the event.
It reaffirmed one of my favorite quotes from Dwight Eisenhower: “The plan is nothing, planning is everything.”