Slammed this week by what will surely be one of the most expensive and devastating natural disasters to ever hit the Northeast, millions of individuals, many of whom are work-at-home or other small business owners, are now beginning to assess the damage that Hurricane Sandy has wrought. For far too many of them, the devastation will be complete. In fact, experts anticipate damages to be as high as $20 billion.
As the storm passes, the initial concentration on mitigating the loss of human life yields to the hard work of recovery. Most home-based and other small business and franchise owners, if and when they are allowed to return to their homes and places of work, will be focused on assessing and documenting the damage and working with the insurance companies to establish their eligibility for assistance.
Once that baseline has been set, many of them will want to explore the resources that are available to assist them at not only the state, but the federal level. More specifically, a number of federal agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Farm Services Agency (FSA) and even the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provide financial and/or other assistance or relief for small business owners recovering from a President-declared disaster like Sandy.
Recognizing that navigating any bureaucracy in the wake of a crisis of this magnitude can be especially maddening, DisasterAssistance.gov may be a good place to start. It provides a short anonymous questionnaire you can take to determine your eligibility for various forms of assistance, as well as a portal to apply for what you need online and check the status of your request over time.
SBA in particular is a crucial resource when it comes to financial assistance. The agency offers two types of loans that would be of particular interest to small business owners who are rebuilding in the areas hardest hit by Sandy:
• Economic Injury Disaster Loans—Available to businesses that suffer “substantial economic injury,” the interest on these loans, which can be up to $2 million, is anywhere from 4 to 8 percent depending on whether or not you have other credit options and can be repaid over a 30-year term.
• Physical Disaster Loans—Also available up to $2 million and with the same interest and term parameters as above, these loans allow for the repair or replacement of damaged real estate, equipment, inventory and fixtures.
You can click here on Applying for a SBA Disaster Loan to find out what steps you need to take to apply for either one of these loan options now!