FEMA server managing hurricane data crashes

A server that the Federal Emergency Management Agency uses to process human services data related to the recent destruction caused by Hurricane Floyd crashed late last week. The agency brought the server back up during the weekend with minimal disruption to the relief process, according to the agency's chief information officer.

"The system crashed on Thursday night and was back up and running by Sunday night," said Clay Hollister, FEMA's CIO. "It was down Friday, but registrations were still being taken and inspections were still being made."

The Compaq Computer Corp. 8500 server that crashed is part of the National Emergency Management Information System, which electronically gathers information from state and local officials to help FEMA manage Presidential Disaster Declarations. FEMA uses NEMIS, a fully automated online transaction processing system, to handle large-scale, or even multiple disasters at the same time. Among other things, the system electronically matches disaster victims with appropriate programs, sends their claims to the Treasury Department for payment and stores claims in a World Wide Web-based library.

Hollister said the timing of the crash was fortunate because the facilities were closed during the weekend, leaving ample time for his staff and the vendors to remedy the situation. "Our contractors [Anteon Corp., Oracle Corp. and Compaq], along with my staff and others, all worked heroically to get the server back up and running," Hollister said.

NEMIS was developed by Anteon, a Fairfax, Va.-based technology and engineering company, which built the system using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT, along with an Oracle database.

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