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9.17.99  
A Site to See — Before Your Business Gets Flattened
The SBA's Disaster Assistance homepage is no beauty — but it's full of good info

Are those swirls on the weather maps moving ominously in your direction? Take a look at the Small Business Administration's disaster assistance site (www.sba.gov/DISASTER) before you need to evacuate. Nothing pretty or fancy about it, the plain gray homepage has little more than a list of links to documents or sites that will help you prepare or recoup when nature takes her toll. That's no flaw, though. The last thing you need when contemplating the impact of a hurricane or other disaster on your business is a complex, slow-loading site.

The information ranges from "Get Ready -- Be Prepared," (a checklist that includes sections on such often overlooked areas as data and computer systems protection and insurance) to the full details of the SBA's Disaster Loan Program. Think you're well-prepared for anything nature can dish out? Check out such sections as the Frequently Asked Questions about Economic Injury Disaster Loans anyway. Those will help compensate you if the public road to your company gets washed out, and you lose business while you wait for the county to fix it.

Small businesses are notorious procrastinators when it comes to buying insurance. Even those who think they're covered often get rude shocks when they file claims -- especially for water damage. The SBA site helps clarify at least one aspect of this complex area -- flood insurance, a federal program. A set of links to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's site include a FAQ on flood insurance and a section called "National Flood Insurance, Myth and Fact."

If you're in a disaster area (and can get to a computer), you can check on what assistance is available, state by state and county by county, by clicking on "SBA Disaster Updates." It even includes 800 numbers for assistance offices.

Finally, for all you weather buffs, Weather Link Symposiums connects you to a page of 18 links on FEMA's site with weather information. Figure you'll get around to disaster preparation when you're less busy? Famous last words...


By Julia Lichtblau in New York
julia_lichtblau@businessweek.com

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