Instant Expert: Natural Disasters

The Facts More than 30% of small businesses shut down by natural disasters never reopen, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The reason? They can't get back in business fast enough. A key problem: damaged computer systems and the loss of critical data.

Case in Point Simmons Advertising's office in Grand Forks, N.D., suffered over $300,000 in damage while submerged under 4 1/2 feet of water during the flood of 1997. Simmons sent mud- and grit-filled hard drives to data-recovery specialists but ultimately lost half the information. The firm has since moved to higher ground and now stores their backup data 90 miles away.

Getting Prepared Assess your risk and plan for emergencies with the "Emergency Management Guide for Business and Industry" from the FEMA Web site,

For free information and custom research on data protection and other disaster-related issues contact the Institute for Business & Home Safety, 617 292-2003,

Steps for Y2K contingency planning apply to general data protection as well. Get the Y2K Jumpstart Kit at the Y2K Help Center for Small Business (, 800 Y2K-7557.

For links to data storage services, check out the Disaster Recovery Journal's Web site,

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