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the next day to discuss what to do if Katrina continued to threaten New Orleans. on Saturday morning, Evanson monitored the storm on TV and the Internet: Katrina was now a Category 3 hurricane -- and it was headed straight for New Orleans.
Evanson called Pat Eiermann, the company's AS/400 administrator, and told him to notify IBM that Oreck was going into emergency mode and would shut down its systems that day and switch its data operations to a Big Blue facility.
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Oreck's executives scheduled a conference call for 11 a.m.
Around 11 a.m., the swollen waters of Lake Pontchartrain, on the city's north side, breached a berm, and New Orleans began to flood.
Other sections of the levee gave way as well; and before long, 80% of the city was underwater, deeper than 20 feet in some neighborhoods.
Moreover, Katrina left the company's IT systems at both headquarters and the factory in tatters.
K., with a death toll estimated at more than 1,300 people and damages topping 5 billion.
"We always assumed one or the other facility would survive. We never thought about office space, housing needs. We had to attend to our employees' personal needs so they could focus on business.
These things just don't show up in a typical disaster recovery plan." On Tuesday, as the magnitude of the disaster became clear, Oreck executives suddenly faced something they had never planned for: extended exile from their key facilities.
Oreck had two weeks of inventory at its 450 retail outlets across the country, but its biggest sale channel -- direct sales via the Internet -- was suddenly sucked into a black hole.
The company had to figure out how to keep its business alive.
"I've never seen anything like it," says Tom Oreck.