Michael Barbaro of the Washington Post tells the story of Mushtaq Naqash, a merchant dealing with the aftereffects of Hurricane Isabel. Like other merchants in Old Town Alexandria whose businesses were flooded, Naqash didn't have a flood policy -- even though his business is located about 100 feet from the Potomac River. He is insured, but Naqash fears his policy will be of little help in recouping his losses -- an estimated $400,000 in merchandise.

Rod Kurtz warned Inc. readers of the impending threat of hurricanes in "Severe Storm Watch." In it, he noted that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted 11 to 15 tropical storms this season, with six to nine reaching hurricane force. Clearly, it's near impossible to predict what effects Mother Nature may have on your business, but, as Naqash's and other owners' stories in Kurtz's piece illustrate, being unprepared can be devastating to a small business.