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Sandy From The West Coast

The images are everywhere: flooded tunnels, runways, and streets, fallen trees, dark skylines.... They tell us of a horrific nightmare in a visually shocking way. Then I got an email from the founder and CEO of the company that hosts my blog—they’re great people who run a great (but small) company with great customer service.

The email starts out with “I have some unfortunate news....” Their primary data center Peer1 in Manhattan had lost power yesterday afternoon. They switched to generator power, no problem. They had enough fuel to last them “three to four days.” And then things started to go wrong.

It’s such an excellent account of just one aspect that businesses in the area have to struggle with, namely power, that I decided to share excerpts ... while I still can.

At 8:30PM yesterday, we received reports that the lobby in the data center's building was beginning to take on water. By 10:30PM, as is sadly the case in most of Lower Manhattan, Peer1's basement had experienced serious flooding. At 5AM, we learned our data center's fuel pumps and fuel tanks were completely flooded and unable to deliver any more fuel. At 8AM, they reported that the generators would be able to run for a maximum of four more hours.

The service would be “offline soon,” probably at around 10:45 AM EST. As I’m writing this, the generator should already have shut down, but I can still access the system, and my blog is still up. Maybe they were able to get some fuel to their generator.

The email assured me that there would be “no chance of data loss or other permanent effects.” I’m not worried. I assume their servers aren’t in the basement next to the fuel tanks.

I just checked their blog. New update. They’ve been working furiously to keep power up for as long as possible. The new estimate is 12:46 PM, the very minute that I’m writing this. System is still up.

It’s hard to imagine what it must be like dealing with this kind of generator problem, when people have died, streets are flooded, bridges and tunnels are closed, transportation has come to a halt, communication is difficult, and people have trouble going where they’re needed.

The email closes with these thoughts: “Our hearts go out to the many people who have lost their lives in this terrible tragedy and also to those who continue to suffer through the consequences of this historic storm.”

Thoughts that reflect exactly how we feel—and so I want to share them around the world while I still can post them, and while my blog is still up.

Update: so now it's 8 PM ET, and the generator is still running because....

We have been running hour by hour by manually carrying fuel to our generators (17 floors) with support from the building.  As the night goes on, this is becoming a bit more difficult to sustain, as fuel trucks will appear more intermittently. For now, we remain online. Thank you all for your patience. 

As before, we do not have a sustainable solution to the energy problem, but we persevere in our efforts to get more fuel on site and get a pump connected.

They're certainly dedicated. Small company fights the odds and the flood. Awesome!

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Reader Comments (6)

Those guys who are trying to keep the servers up are valiant! I think I would have just packed it in,
October 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnygeneric
You've got a diehard provider with heart, it seems...
October 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhidflect
Just read that the HuffPo, Gawker, Buzzfeed, etc. were at least partially knocked out. So when it happens to TP, it will be in good company. But it hasn't happened yet. Any minute now, they tell me. They're great about updates via twitter. I wish them the best.

(When the water is gone and life is back to normal in Manhattan, they should shop for a backup data center in another part of the country. It's called geographical redundancy. Just an idea.)
October 30, 2012 | Registered CommenterWolf Richter
Why would anyone have a data center in NY area? (Other than for banking-trading-complex reasons.)

October 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfatster
I lived up close and personal through the 9/11 disaster/recovery and the 2003 blackout. What astounding incompetence. No one besides al-Qaeda can be blamed for the awful mess created by the obliteration of one-quater of Lower Manhattan (no power, no telecom, BoNY down, NYSE down, and all the rest. But there was a huge multibillion dollar effort to make the financial center more resilient and to prevent another catastrophic loss of our economy's nerve center. 2003 was another mess. No we have a third. In all of that planning, not one person considered the risk of a flood, when Lower Manhattan is built on landfill six feet above sea level? It boggles the mind that this was not anticipated.
October 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris Mahoney
Solar, wind, etc. Gotta get off the grid, small step by small step...
November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDuh

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