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Hurricane Irma Aftermath: Biggest Disaster Recovery In U.S. History

The post-Hurricane Irma cleanup across Florida, Georgia and beyond ranks among the most complex in U.S. history, as millions of residents and entrepreneurs attempt to return to their homes, power up businesses, restore data and jumpstart commerce.

By the time business and residents truly get back to "normal," this will likely be the biggest disaster recovery effort in U.S. history, ChannelE2E believes. It's a stunning reality, considering cleanup efforts from Hurricane Harvey continue across Texas.

As part of my own travels, I'm currently located just North of Orlando, Fla. By Sunday, Sept. 17, ChannelE2E is scheduled to have feet on the ground in Miami, Florida. Our daily post-Irma updates will continue for the foreseeable future. Check this blog daily.

Updated Thursday, September 14

Kaseya’s Senior VP Taunia Kipp
Kaseya Senior VP Taunia Kipp

10:25 a.m. ET: Kaseya's Miami offices will reopen on Friday, Sept. 15, at 9:00 a.m. ET, according to Senior VP of Marketing and Business Development Taunia Kipp. The MSP-centric software company's Tampa offices remain closed due to a power outage. However, Kaseya essentially distributed its workloads worldwide ahead of the hurricane to ensure business continuity. Scroll down to see earlier updates from Kaseya.

7:48 a.m. ET: We're attending Autotask Community Live 2017 in Hollywood, Florida, starting on Sunday, September 17. We'll be extra respectful of the challenges many residents and businesses are facing in the region as we report from Hollywood and Miami.

7:45 a.m. ET: Nearly 2.7 million homes and businesses in Florida — including an estimated 435,772 in Central Florida — did not have electricity as of about 6 a.m. Thursday morning, according to the latest report from the state's Division of Emergency Management, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

Updated Wednesday, September 13

4:44 p.m. ET: LAN Infotech of Fort Lauderdale says its offices are now operational. "We have reached out to our clients as well as local MSP’s to offer support, office space  and Internet," President Michael Goldstein said in an email yesterday. "Comcast has  a major outage, many businesses without Internet. Thankful that we have fiber connectivity."

8:19 a.m. ET: Track a Florida Power Outage Map here. Also features detailed information about cellular wireless, cable, broadband and Internet service outages across Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

7:47 a.m. ET: Roughly 4.4 million homes and businesses in Florida lacked power as of Tuesday night, according to Florida's Division of Emergency Management.

Updated Tuesday, September 12

10:58 p.m. ET: Duke Energy expects to restore power across the following regions by the following dates:

  • By midnight Friday, Sept. 15: The western portion of its service area. This includes Pinellas and Pasco counties.
  • By midnight Sunday, Sept. 17: central and northern portions of the service area. This includes Alachua, Bay, Brevard, Citrus, Columbia, Dixie, Flagler, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Leon, Levy, Madison, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Volusia, and Wakulla counties. 

Still, some areas will likely wait longer for power to be restored. Te company indicated:

"Restoration in the severely impacted areas of Hardee and Highlands County may extend beyond Sunday due to rebuilding the electrical system that suffered significant damage in those areas."

9:00 p.m. ET: Power outages remain widespread even though repair crews have restored service to at least 2 million customers over the past couple of days. Among the outages tracked by CNN:

  • Florida: About 4.4 million customers -- which includes homes, organizations and businesses
  • Georgia: Almost 700,000 customers
  • South Carolina: Almost 55,000 customers
  • North Carolina: More than 29,000 customers
  • Alabama: More than 7,000 customers
Roseann Harrington

7:25 p.m. ET: In many cases, the rush to "return to normal" is premature. Highways, power grids, broadband networks and businesses simply cannot support the massive influx of people who are attempting to return to their homes for the post-storm cleanup.

Many IT service providers and technology companies have their hands full supporting their own companies and employees. Extending that recovery line to customer networks is a daunting challenge -- especially amid the power outages.

“This will probably be the largest utility restoration and rebuild project in the history of the United States,” said Roseann Harrington, vice president of marketing at Orlando Utilities Commission, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “So we ask for everybody’s patience.”

Indeed, mayors in multiple cities are urging residents not to return to their homes yet as emergency workers continue to assess the damage and plan associated recoveries. Florida Governor Rick Scott has echoed those statements.

“Don’t think just because this has passed you can run home,” said Scott. “We’ve got downed power lines all across the state, we’ve got roads that are impassable all over the state, we’ve got debris all over the state.”

Hurricane Irma Aftermath: Slow Residential, Business Recovery

Among the updates:

  • Hardest Hit: One in four homes in the Florida Keys is destroyed, according to FEMA.
  • Power Outages: More than 5.2 million homes and businesses in Florida — including about 900,000 in Central Florida — did not have electricity as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the state's Division of Emergency Management. Still, there are dramatic signs of progress. In an impressive display of coordinated force, repair teams from multiple states have already restored power to 2 million people.
  • Northern and Central Florida: Residents with no power are driving to neighboring towns for power and broadband service. Areas like The Villages -- largely spared from the storm's wrath -- are feeling the strain as neighbors from Ocala, Florida, flood the area in search of fuel, power and broadband, ChannelE2E observed today.
  • Fasted Food Runs Low: In a sign of the times, even a McDonalds in The Villages was running low on food as of 2:00 p.m. ET today. Overall spirits remain high, however, as Floridians pitch in with the recovery across Northern Florida.
  • Southern Florida: ChannelE2E will proceed to Southern Florida for a first-hand look at the destruction and recovery next week.

Hurricane Irma Aftermath: Technology Industry Recovery

On the technology front, IT service providers and technology companies across Florida are pitching in with the massive recovery effort. Among the updates:

Jason Dettbarn, CEO, Addigy

Addigy (Miami, Fla.): Half of the company's team is outside of Florida. Many of those who remained in Miami already have power. "We have multiple ISP provider circuits into our office and we're located right next to a Substation, so our office will likely be back online in the next 48 hours," said CEO Jason Dettbarn. "We dodged an enormous bullet in Miami, and you don't play chicken with the largest storm ever recorded.  It was also extraordinarily heart warming for so many Addigy customers & partners to literal offer/open their homes and offices for all my staff and their families.... we are so honored and hope to be able to repay the generosity.  Business is never always strictly business, and it's humbling to see the character of our great Addigy partners, an unspeakable level of thanks to all of them!"

Autotask (Albany, N.Y.): The company is scheduled to host its annual Autotask Community Live conference next week in Hollywood, Florida. Although the host hotel was evacuated during Irma, Autotask says the show is scheduled to proceed on schedule.

ConnectWise (Tampa): The company feels fortunate that Irma's hit on Tampa wasn't as bad as predicted. Still, many employees evacuated the area ahead of the storm and are now returning to Tampa. "We are now working on getting our Tampa colleagues back to business as usual," the company said. "Any disruptions to support or increased wait times our partners may have experienced should improve over the next couple days as we recover all operations to normal. We're also continuing to update with our latest status so our partners know what to expect.

Datto (Connecticut): The data protection specialist sent team members to Florida ahead of the hurricane. The goal: Much like Hurricane Harvey, Datto wanted local feet on the ground to assist MSPs with their recovery efforts. We've pinged the company for an update.

Kaseya (Miami, Fla.): All 155 employees located in Florida are safe, according to a check-in system the company launched before Irma's arrival. Kaseya has roughly 2,000 customers (mostly MSPs) across Florida and Texas, and the company is "doing everything we can to help those customers get their businesses back up and running and to maintain business continuity," the company said.

  • Kaseya Customer Support: Although Kaseya is a worldwide business, a significant portion of the company's Customer Success operations (Support, Account Management, Professional Services and Billing) are in Miami. Also, a sales office is in Tampa. The Miami was closed Monday, and the Tampa office was without power as of Monday. Employees who have the means are working remotely. Still, there's a "minimal" impact to service since Kaseya reroute support and customer success functions to non-impacted teams/geographies ahead of the story, they said.
  • Kaseya Staff Support: Kaseya's HR team is hiring “employee assistance specialists” to help employees file insurance claims, locate contractors to make necessary repairs, dealing with family issues or providing counseling services to help them during these difficult times, the company said.

Michael Goldstein

LAN InfoTech (Fort Lauderdale, Fla): "We have survived from Boca Raton," President Michael Goldstein said in an email yesterday. "Many roads block due to down trees but we continue to communicate with our clients so we can all try and return back to normal. As I went out this morning – remembering that it was 9-11 I couldn’t help to stop and count my blessings as I saw the hurricane surviving tattered flag,"

Roaring Penguin Software: The company is extending Mail Queuing to 14 days in response to Hurricane Irma. The old limit had been 7 days.

Tech Data (Clearwater, Fla.): The distributor's core ERP system and various online ordering tools were down on Tuesday, CRN reported. We're checking to see how much of a material impact the outages will cause.

Stuart Crawford

Ulistic (Sebring, Fla). The company's Sebring office took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma at 10:52 Eastern Time on Sunday night, according to CEO Stuart Crawford. "All staff are OK," he adds. "We executed our business continuity strategy on the Wednesday prior to the storm.  Everyone at Ulistic is OK and all of our services are online.  Operations have been transferred to our Canadian office in Fort Erie, ON."

Continued ChannelE2E Updates

Keep checking this blog for continued updates.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.