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How One Planner Evacuated by Sandy Avoided Closing up Shop

By Scott Wenger, Photos by Mason Braswell

The streets around New York City Hall are a desirable location for a financial planner, complemented by old-world charm and the proximity of two major rivers.

Stacy Francis, a CFP and president of Francis Financial, not only enjoys working in Lower Manhattan with her seven staffers, she and her family live there, too. Yet suddenly this week, the waterfront became a major liability.

When government officials ordered an evacuation because of flooding that was even more severe than feared, Francis not only had to leave her home, her office also became a target of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction. “We are evacuated, as is the Francis Financial office,” Francis wrote in an email.

Time for Plan B -- her back-up plan.

Staffers who live in areas that were not evacuated “are all working remotely from home,” she said. “We are set up for these situations, as we are 100% paperless. The phone messages come to our email so we are in close touch with clients.”

Francis added, “One client even needed an emergency distribution, and we have already processed this.”

To be sure, many advisors (and countless clients) were not able to escape the destruction wrought by Sandy. But amid the cleanup in the days and weeks to come, planners may also consider what preparations they can make so their practices can cope with the next natural disaster.

Francis offered the following short list.

1) Have online back-up that can perform even if there is an office disaster. 1) Have online back-up that can perform even if there is an office disaster.

After an explosion at the Con Edison plant on 14th Street knocked out power, much of lower Manhattan below 34th Street was left in the dark.

2) Every piece of paper should be scanned in the same day. All client files are scanned, as well. 2) Every piece of paper should be scanned in the same day. All client files are scanned, as well.

Carried by wind and water, debris caused damage around the Northeast, including to these cars parked along 20th street in Manhattan.

3) All employees should work from home regularly to test system capabilities. 3) All employees should work from home regularly to test system capabilities.

A man walks along the East River Park in the morning after the storm surge covered the area with water.

4) Everyone should have a contact list of all staffers. 4) Everyone should have a contact list of all staffers.

A couple shares a moment while braving the storm along Delancey street in Manhattan's powerless Lower East Side.

On Monday night, Francis added:"Sorry so short -- busy with client requests here." On Monday night, Francis added:"Sorry so short -- busy with client requests here."

A crew takes a photo next to a vending machine that had washed up onto the East side highway near 23rd Street in the flood.

A 4-step back-up plan was key after being forced from her office and her home.

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