Looking Back: More Lessons from Hurricane Sandy

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As we approach the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, a variety of efforts are underway to minimize the impact of future catastrophic events. Those efforts over time are likely to change the way that buildings are designed and built — for example, by changing building code requirements.

Those changes could make data centers and other critical facilities more robust in the face of disasters. For example, code mandates in New York City led to a situation where generators, fuel tanks, and fuel pumps were located in the basements of buildings. When water rose 13 feet above sea level, the basements of many buildings in New York City were flooded from floor to ceiling, fuel pumps were knocked out of commission, and fuel tanks were lifted off the ground, breaking connections to fuel oil.

For some matters, there’s no need for facility managers to wait for building codes to change in order to take action to make data centers and other critical facilities more robust. For example, regular testing of generators under load helps to ensure that the generators will function when called upon. Regular generator maintenance on items like fuel oil filters is also crucial. The same goes for maintenance of the uninterruptible power supply system.

Items like those should not be overlooked. In the days following Hurricane Sandy, some generators were pushed right up to the breaking point.

Also crucial is having adequate plans for fuel once the onsite supply is exhausted. What’s more, facility managers should consider having a backup strategy in case the generator fails. Sources said that it was harder to get portable generators in the days after Hurricane Sandy than it was to get fuel.

Click here to learn more about how Hurricane Sandy has prompted new ways of thinking about data center resiliency.

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