How New FEMA Flood Maps Affect Florida Businesses and Data Centers

Florida Flood ZonesFlorida residents and businesses not previously located in a flood zone may want to check the new FEMA boundaries recently put into place. The changes affect those in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, which encompasses 67 cities, including Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater. While the biggest concern for residents may be the potential insurance rate increase from their mortgage lender, some businesses are now worried about the safety of their on- and off-premise data—especially with hurricane season only two months away.

 

How FEMA Flood Mapping Works

FEMA’s flood hazard mapping program, Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP) identifies flood hazards, assesses risk, and partners with states and communities to provide accurate information to guide them to damage mitigation actions. FEMA maintains and updates data through Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), which includes statistical information for each of the following:

  • River flow
  • Rainfall surveys
  • Topographic surveys (survey of land surfaces)
  • Storm surge (a rise in sea level generated by a storm)
  • Storm tide (extreme rise in sea level due to a combination of storm surge and high tide)
  • Hydrologic/hydraulic analyses (studying the properties and behavior of water’s flow, depth, velocity, and force upon the surface).

New flood zone maps for Pinellas and Hillsborough are available now, and anyone who thinks their property is incorrectly categorized can submit an appeal by July 3, 2019.

 

What the New Flood Mapping Means for Organizations

Organizations that were once considered outside of flood areas but now find themselves in a danger zone may have cause for concern if they’re housing their data solely on-premise; if their facility floods, or becomes damaged by a hurricane, data could be lost forever. So, it’s imperative that organizations maintain a backup copy of their data at an off-site location (following the 3-2-1 rule of data backup is recommended).

Unfortunately, many small organizations don’t have another location to back up their data to, leaving them one disaster away from completely losing their business (FEMA reports that approximately 40-60% of small businesses never reopen following a disaster). Companies that are aware of the dangers of maintaining all data on-premise but lack a secondary company-owned site may be housing data in a third-party data center located nearby; unfortunately, this doesn’t ensure they’re in the clear.

 

What the New Flood Mapping Means for Data Centers

Data centers located in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties that were once able to boast a location outside of flood zones may now find that this no longer applies. The new FEMA mapping may have changed their base flood elevation (BFE), the regulatory requirement for the elevation or flood-proofing of structures, now listing them within a hazard zone.

This is especially problematic if the data center is a standalone operation. Without the ability to quickly move data from one location to another, a flood or hurricane can shut the facility down, leaving clients in the dark for days, and potentially losing their data forever. That’s why data replication through a data center with multiple geo-diverse locations has become more important than ever.

 

Understanding Data Backup and Data Replication

Data backup involves taking “snapshots” of data at a specific moment in time and storing it on archival tapes or disks at an offsite, company-owned location. Often, backups are performed just once per week, which offers a level of data protection but doesn’t provide business continuity in the event of a flood or hurricane. Restoration can take days, and losing seven days of data can still be detrimental to operations. Through data replication, data is copied as it is produced and stored off-site in a data center. This way, applications and processes remain available, regardless of a natural disaster, as they are being maintained in real-time with a host.

Data replication, however, is really only useful in a disaster scenario if the data center has geo-diverse locations to move data as needed, safeguarding against loss or interruption. For example, if a hurricane is projected to hit Florida, where both the data center and client are located, a geo-diverse data center will simply move applications and workloads to their operation in the Midwest, keeping it protected and accessible to their clients.

 

DSM Has Florida Covered

With flood zones changing, and hurricane season approaching, we know that many organizations are concerned about their data—and we’re here to help, positioned high and dry in the middle of the state with geo-diverse locations. For organizations already using on-premise data management software such as Veeam, Zerto, or Commvault, you can also get physical and virtual backups offsite through DSM—without the cost or complexity of building and maintaining offsite infrastructure. If you’re located in the Sunshine State and preparing for the storms ahead, contact the experts at DSM today.

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