What does food have to do with it…

Food is a passion of mine. I will eat pretty much anything – from cricket fried rice to a Bloody Mary topped with two Cornish hens, an avocado and fried okra to anything and everything with bacon. I love food!  When I travel to industry conferences, I make it a point to hunt out at least one unique restaurant for one of my meals. My latest obsession – José Andrés restaurants. José Andrés is a James Beard awarding winning chef with 29 restaurants. My current favorite restaurant of his is called Bazaar, where you can enjoy an amazing 18 course culinary experience. OMG it’s the absolute best, if you ever get a chance to try it…TRY IT!

So, what does all this amazing food talk have to do with business continuity or disaster recovery? Recently I found out it has a lot to do with disaster recovery.  Let me explain… We always look immediately to the big organizations like FEMA and Red Cross to help support relief efforts. But, in reality, they can’t do it all. There is only so much food, supplies and volunteers to go around. That is why there are many other organizations (probably lesser known, but still very effective) that assist in supporting disaster relief.  One of those organizations is called World Central Kitchen (WCK), which the chef that I speak so highly of, José Andrés is a major contributor of.

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Andrés formed WCK, a non-profit non-governmental organization devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters. WCK provides smart solutions to hunger and poverty by using the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies.  Most recently in 2017, WCK, along with #ChefsForPuertoRico, served over 3.6 million meals to the people of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria with the help of 20,000 volunteers.  Andrés actually went to Puerto Rico days after the hurricane (and might I mention spent weeks there) to personally help WCK’s efforts there. And this is just one example. Last year alone, World Central Kitchen served over 4 million meals to victims of natural disasters. And with all of this generosity, Andrés recently accepted the 2018 Humanitarian of the Year award from the James Beard Foundation.

I had no idea Andrés was involved in all of this until I started recently following him on social media. It was kind of incredible to see my two worlds collide – disaster recovery and food. Mind explosion! I couldn’t wait to write about this as I am truly inspired by his story, which makes me want to support him even more. There are many organizations and people that come together after a disaster, it’s nice to recognize some of the smaller ones that may not get as much credit as the big guys. Kudos to you José Andrés and everyone involved at WCK, you are true inspirations!


If you are interested in donating or want more information on World Central Kitchen, please check out their website.

Crowds in Crises

Back in 2015 the world was captivated by the Universal film “Jurassic World”. Viewers praised Chris Pratt’s performance in this science fiction thriller, but were more entertained by a different kind of hero. During a pterosaur attack causing resort guests to push, shove, and trample each other as they flee, a man is spotted grabbing two margaritas before seeking his own safety…or the safety of the second margarita’s owner. #priorities

Movies typically depict a crowd’s response to an emergency or disaster scenario as emotionally driven, almost irrationally selfish. It’s widely assumed that as mass hysteria and panic take hold of a crowd, people do whatever they can to better serve themselves. But does this actually occur off the screens? Are we really all the margarita man?

Social psychology says no. Research dating back as far as the 1950’s show that behavior in disaster response is generally pro-social and collaboratively altruistic. History backs this theory up.

  • The SAGE Journals article – Panic: Myth or Reality? contains testimonies from 9/11 survivors recalling the feeling of together-ness and calmness rather than panic. They provided over 30 pages of stories where people were helping one another.
  • An article published by The Guardian paints a picture of camaraderie through the eyes of 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami survivors. Memories include a man making sure a child’s safety was secured before his own, a volunteer boat crew devoting an entire day to rescue efforts, and people transporting strangers to hospitals.
  • The International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters reported that the pre-existing norms of queuing, men assisting women and children first, and able bodied people helping the elderly and impaired had emerged during the 2005 London Bombings.

Mass media do a poor job of displaying the true heroism in human behavior. The internet is saturated with statistics and stories of altruistic behavior in the face of emergencies and disasters. If your perspective of crowds in crises is still influenced by movies, I’ll leave you with this:

“In Hollywood, no one knows anything”- William Goldman

(and he wrote the cherished classic The Princess Bride…which is basically the equivalent of being omniscient…just something to consider)

Martha Pimentel Photography

Prepared for Sunshine, Not for Earthquakes

A few years back I uprooted my life and moved from Pennsylvania to California. While the beautiful weather lured me in, I realized, the one downside, the chance of me experiencing an earthquake was more probable living in my new state. My first week of living in California a colleague asked me if I had an earthquake kit prepared, you know in case of the “big one”. I replied no and asked him what an earthquake kit entailed. His response, with a straight face, “A helmet that you wear every day, because you never know when it will hit. You have to be prepared and ready.” “Nice try” I said to him. I didn’t fall for his joke, but it did get me thinking, how do you prepare yourself for the “big one”?

Working in the disaster recovery industry, we focus on how our companies react and plan for a major disaster, but do you have an emergency plan for yourself and your loved ones? If not, here are a few things you should consider.

  • Prepare an Emergency Kit – Ensure you are equipped with proper supplies in your home maybe even have an emergency bag prepared. Things to consider in your emergency kit: water (at least 3 gallons – enough for 3 days), non-perishable food (enough for 3 days), flashlight, first aid kit, blanket, matches, personal hygiene supplies, medications, extra cash, and more. Check out Red Cross for a complete list of emergency items.
  • We Live in a Technology Driven World – If a disaster hits, we may lose electricity, gas, water, sewer, and/or telephone service. We rely on technology, particularly cell phones, for everything. How many of us have our family members’ cell phone numbers memorized? Most of us are lucky if we know our own numbers. It’s important to have a print out of your top 10 contacts’ phone numbers, be sure to include in- and out-of-state contacts. To go along with that, a printed local and state map is another important thing to have. Keep these print outs together in a few places, such as your car, office and home. Another thing we take for granted is electricity, if you don’t have a back-up generator at your house it’s smart to have flashlights, candles, a battery-operated radio, and a backup cell phone charger (fully charged).
  • Members of your Household – A disaster can occur at any given moment. You may not be in the comfort of your home with your family when the next tornado strikes. How do you get in contact with your family? Do you know the disaster plan at your children’s school? Do you know what your spouse’s work disaster plan is? Make sure you are all on the same page before a disaster hits, communication is key at the time of an incident. ReadySanDiego and the DOMO Group provides some great family planning resources as well.

While we play major roles in disaster recovery, if one should happen in our area, we must consider our family as family always comes first, and having a personal disaster recovery plan in place is crucial for this reason. Wearing a helmet everyday may be a little extreme for your earthquake preparedness plan, but it is important to have some type of plan in place and some supplies stocked. Disaster planning should be a must in everyone’s household!


(photo credit: Martha Pimentel Photography)

The Power of Power

Recently, we had an extraordinary storm for suburban Philadelphia.  Straight Line Winds and (possible tornadoes) created a swath of devastation that left my home (and those of 100,000 of my neighbors) “powerless” for three days.

Thankfully, our office was not in the storm’s path, but due to the downed trees blocking a majority of the roads in my area, I was unable to reach it for a time.

The school my children attend was also hard hit.  Their location is not hooked to the municipal sewer and water lines, so the outage meant no drinking water, toilets or hand washing without electricity.  They do have a generator, which sustained them for two days.  On the third day it failed, and they were forced to close.

Lost power equals lost revenue and lost customer confidence.  Many steps can be taken to mitigate these losses.

Take care to plan for protecting key elements to running your business.  Perform a Business Impact Analysis to determine your needs:

  • Do you have an Uninterruptible Power Supply for key hardware?
  • Do you need a Generator?
    • Can your people access the building?
    • Is there safety lighting for exit?
    • Do you need HVAC to protect equipment?
  • Is key equipment attached to a surge protector?
  • Do you have a backup data center so that employees can access their data?
  • Are employees empowered to access data form an alternate location?

This is just a small example of the questions that should be asked in order to prepare for an outage.  Prevent downtime by having a plan.  Visit for more information.