Aging infrastructure also adds risk as more severe weather strikes various regions of the U.S. In New York City,
for example, many water pipes date back to the Civil War era, according to Berman.
In addition, the nation's power infrastructure is mainly above ground, on poles that are vulnerable to strong
winds and electrical storms.
"There is some infrastructure that needs to be changed. I think burying power and phone lines is a good first
step," Olds said.
Utility companies should be spending time and money to bury lines after severe storms, in a piecemeal fashion,
Olds said. That way, they'll have both the political and financial support for the projects. Unfortunately, after a
power outage, most local governments are only concerned with getting power back on and not addressing future
outages, he said.
The nation's communications networks are in even more critical need of changes, Olds said. For example, as a
result of the mid-Atlantic coast derecho, 911 emergency service was out in areas of Virginia for as long as two
days, Olds said.
Installing fiber-optic communication lines underground could ensure not only more resilient communications
networks, but better coordination during and after severe weather events. And, the use of new mini-sensors on
communications and power networks could lead to faster line repairs, he said.
"By installing network sensors, you can see where the damage is and deliver resources to the right areas,
faster," Olds said. "It's getting cheap to put sensors and intelligence into anything."
Until the nation's infrastructure is made more robust, the increasing severity of weather conditions will
continue to have regional, not just local, implications. All companies need to think about backup plans outside of
"I advise my clients that you can't depend on any one thing. You can't depend on the cloud unless you have
something to fall back on," Olds said. "I also hope this serves as a great learning experience for Amazon and other
cloud service providers in general."
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and
health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.