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Disaster Recovery At Its Most Dramatic

The week after last year's attacks was crowded with every conceivable hurdle for HIP Health Plan of New York.

InformationWeek Staff

September 18, 2002

2 Min Read

In the days following last year's terrorist attacks, many of HIP Health Plan of New York's IT staff went above and beyond the call of duty to keep the company afloat.

On the Thursday after the attacks, members of HIP's disaster-recovery team obtained a police escort to the company's data center, only a few blocks from the World Trade Center. They successfully removed critical data tapes and planned to bring them to the recovery floor in New Jersey.

"Unfortunately, we didn't keep the police escort," says Pedro Villalba, chief technology officer and senior VP of IS for the health-care company. "They were on their own, in cars, and at the Triborough Bridge, our staff got stopped because they had these red boxes with tapes in them. The military police pulled them out of the car, had them sprawled on the ground, and searched the whole car at gunpoint." Eventually, the harried employees made it safely to the New Jersey site, and HIP successfully recovered all of its data.

That first week after the attacks, HIP's midtown headquarters were empty except for the disaster-recovery team. "I didn't go home for five working days," Villalba says. "I stayed here, and a lot of the critical staff did shifts."

"We started to complain a little bit about how some of the staff was starting to smell," jokes CIO John Steber. "We used to kid around with Pedro because he wound up wearing various pieces of clothing from other people."

Thanks to that kind of dedication, HIP had its critical systems and mainframes running by Sept. 13, a day ahead of schedule, Villalba says. "By Friday, businesspeople were taking the system through the paces, so that on Monday we would be open for business, and that's what occurred. That's when I went home, on Monday."

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