February 29, 2016 7:00 PM, EST

Failing to Prepare Disaster Plan Can Be Biggest Disaster, Experts Say

Webb, Desiato by Roger W. Gilroy/TT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — To recover from a disaster and ensure your fleet or manufacturing facility remains resilient afterward takes planning, then testing the plan, revising the plan, and testing it again and again, experts said.

“A disaster recovery plan is a living document,” said Mike Webb, regional maintenance manager at Old Dominion Freight Line Inc.

Also, companies should have “what I call an angel, someone who owns the plan” and makes sure it stays updated with the latest information, such as key contacts, said Robert Desiato, director of network disaster recovery for AT&T Inc.

Their remarks came during a presentation at American Trucking Associations' Leadership Forum here Feb. 29.

A major flood hit Nashville few years ago, Webb said, and one major petroleum refiner was underwater and basically lost everything

It couldn’t support itself or its customer base for lack of emergency generators, he said.

“Everything became contaminated. In the rising of the water, they couldn’t get their products out to move it. They couldn’t pump fluids,” he said.

“It was a valuable lesson for them. But all their contingencies floated away,” Webb said.

Test your disaster recovery plan through a tabletop exercise at least once a year, Desiato said. Practical testing of the plan should take place at least twice a year.

And don’t forget to have a POTS line, Desiato  explained: plain old telephone service.

“Do not rely on one means of communication,” he said.

Take the first step, Desiato said, and consider how demand for your products and services will be affected. “What functions are important?”

Old Dominion Freight Line ranks No. 11 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.