Hurricane Impact Assessment: Isaac in New Orleans

Now that Hurricane Isaac is in our rear-view mirror, it’s time to assess the disaster damage.

We monitored and shared the New Orleans power outages on Global Data Vault blog day-by-day, but we censored the wrath pointed at local energy provider Entergy to return the city’s electricity. As you can see from the time lapse video here,



the progress was slow (as tensions built) in the beginning, but by the 5th, major headway was made and tempers were calmed. Poor Entergy though, they just couldn’t get a break. Problems with an electrical substation knocked out power to about 11,000 customers in the Central Business District, Mid-City and Uptown a few days post recovery which no doubt added fuel to the fire.

The good news – if there is good news after a hurricane — is that Officials with the National Weather Service said that their modeling of hurricanes before and after the improvements in New Orleans show no evidence that they led to increased flooding in the River Parishes. The great news is that the levees held. That’s a key accomplishment for Mayor Mitch Landrieu and a credit to his leadership over the past several years. However, we cannot forget that Isaac was only a category 1 hurricane. Katrina (2005) was a 3 hurricane when it came ashore. Here is a list of storms that reached Category 5 in the past ten years:

Storm Season Time as Cat 5 Peak wind speed
Isabel 2003 42 hours 165 mph
Ivan 2004 60 hours 165 mph
Emily 2005 6 hours 160 mph
Katrina 2005 18 hours 175 mph
Rita 2005 24 hours 180 mph
Wilma 2005 18 hours 185 mph
Dean 2007 24 hours 175 mph
Felix 2007 24 hours 175 mph


The bad news is that Isaac was a hefty beast. His footprint was wide and like many who visit New Orleans for the first time, he just didn’t want to leave. Isaac became a slow-moving hurricane that pelted the city for far too long. Its lingering effects pushed more water into Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas and the swamps below them, which brought worse flooding to the areas than anyone expected.

It will be some time before the actual bill from Isaac is totaled. Between the extra expenses and lost revenue, the city is reeling from yet another blow to its tightly stretched budget. Overtime for emergency responders and lost hotel taxes are easy to calculate, lost wages from city agencies, retailers, and those who scrapped their Labor Day plans for the Southern Decadence Festival are much more difficult to estimate.

Many businesses were unable to operate for a full week without power, internet connectivity and access to their IT systems.

Hurricanes have the potential to decimate a city and the businesses within it completely, but with pre-planning and a solid disaster recovery system in place, it doesn’t have to. Global Data Vault assisted a large number of customers through this recent storm. These businesses were back in business quickly. We’re happy that our customers weren’t significant victims of Hurricane Isaac.

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