Force majeure is a term that you don’t pay too much attention to in contracts until it matters. It means “superior force” in Latin, and typically refers to uncontrollable events like natural disasters, that prevent something in the contract from happening no matter what each side of the contract wants.
It really sucks for any event, and especially when it couldn’t be called until the day before it was set to start. I know a number of Post Status members and Loopconf attendees were either already in Fort Lauderdale or in the air.
Thankfully, the Loopconf team is handling it as well as one could hope. For instance, they are helping with hotel booking issues and keeping up a list of airline weather waiver statuses to help attendees get refunds or credits for expenses made.
There’s no word yet of when Loopconf will next occur, but the team has said they’ll explore options for the end of 2016 or in 2017; I hope they reset for 2017, personally. I really hope they had event insurance, and if not, that they’ll be able to minimize losses. But a lot of people are likely to lose money one way or another with this cancellation — organizers, attendees, and sponsors.
WordCamp Orlando is also this weekend, and is also up in the air. Friday workshops have been cancelled but they say the weekend will happen as long as they have power.
Times like these are when you realize how important contracts and insurance are. Also, this is why many companies that put on events create separate business entities for them, so as to limit liability to the event business without risking the primary business.
Finally, this is precisely one of the protections the WordPress community gets from the WordCamp setup, so that the organization takes the heat in times like these. It’s not to discourage private events (I mean, I’m putting one on), but you have to have your ducks in a row.
I hope to see Loopconf bigger and better than ever once they get through this mess. Having grown up on the gulf coast, I can definitively say: hurricanes suck.