Learning curve: Hard lessons for businesses in hurricanes

In this Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, photo, Lexi Montgomery, with her dog Nala, recalls the ordeal she experienced during Hurricane Irma, in Miami Beach, Fla. Hurricane Irma was the first hurricane that Montgomery ever experienced. The hurricanes that have pounded the U.S. this year have taught many small business owners a lesson about disaster preparation: Even careful plans can have weaknesses. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
In this Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, photo, Lexi Montgomery poses with supplies she has purchased in the event of another storm, in Miami Beach, Fla. Hurricane Irma was the first hurricane that Montgomery ever experienced. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
In this Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, photo, Lexi Montgomery poses for a photo, in Miami Beach, Fla. Hurricane Irma was the first hurricane that Montgomery ever experienced. The hurricanes that have pounded the U.S. this year have taught many small business owners a lesson about disaster preparation: Even careful plans can have weaknesses. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

NEW YORK — Harvey, Irma and Maria have taught small business owners that disaster planning is more than just evacuating and trying to mitigate physical damage — it's also about the "what ifs."

Many realized they hadn't done the right kind of preparation, including buying flood insurance. Even those with carefully made plans ran into situations they didn't account for.

The owner of a home care business in Florida had a detailed plan before Hurricane Irma hit, but didn't expect cellphone towers to fail. And a Miami Beach website designer thought evacuating to Tampa shortly before Irma was a good idea — but the storm changed its path.

Some owners say they want their own generators. Others say they'll add contingency provisions to their contracts — or even spend the hurricane season elsewhere.

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