(CBS) — If your email’s been down since Hurricane Sandy hit on Monday night, you might be waiting quite some time before it’s up and running again.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports the storm took out many Internet service providers and data centers along the East Coast. That’s led to an Internet blackout for many businesses and websites that rely on those systems.

“Security and back-up are a lot like oxygen. You don’t think about it till you don’t have it,” tech expert Shelly Palmer said. “There are Internet service providers all over the East Coast that were just devastated, and we’re all paying the price right now.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger Reports

Palmer, author of the book “Overcoming the Digital Divide,” and a frequent guest on the WBBM Noon Business Hour, said the failure points out why businesses need a continuation plan.

“Their servers either weren’t backed up or they didn’t have failover capability, so that when a data center went down for whatever reason – due to flooding or due to lack of power, or the inability for the generators to continue to function – they had no way to back up their systems. They had no redundant systems,” he said.

Palmer said businesses need to build in redundancies and backup systems in the event of a disaster.

“There’s a stunning picture where the New York City skyline was completely dark – it was taken from either New Jersey or Staten Island – and only 200 West Street, which is Goldman Sachs’ building, they were fully lit up as if they were doing business as usual, because they have complete business continuity planning, and they were just up and running.”

Palmer said, going forward, businesses should work with a cloud computing provider – or better, multiple cloud providers – to offer backup systems.

Palmer said if your Internet service is down because of power problems, it will be back when the electricity comes back, but if it’s because a data center or server was flooded, restoring service could take much longer.