Hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters can wreak immediate physical havoc, but the long-term economic consequences may be even more severe. Business disaster assistance programs at the state or federal level can provide critical resources and disaster relief for businesses. Small business disaster grants and loans may be the tools you need to move past the devastation and focus on rebuilding.
Most states offer a variety of resources to help your business recover after a disaster. In many cases, the best place to begin is an emergency management agency. These agencies often coordinate local, state and federal assistance, and they should have information about programs for a wide variety of private and non-profit companies. Programs offered by states may include:
- disaster unemployment assistance
- disaster dislocated worker programs
- small business emergency loan programs
- links to resources for non-profit business development groups and consultants
Each of these programs is designed to help small businesses get back on their feet in the period following a natural disaster. Small business councils at the local and state levels provide information and links to these and other types of programs, and they may include direct support to help businesses determine the best course of action.
In addition to business disaster assistance offered at the local and state levels, federal support may also be available to address the impact of natural disasters. As a first step in the wake of a natural disaster, small businesses are strongly encouraged to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This can allow you to review available disaster relief for businesses.
At the federal level, existing programs include:
- U.S. Small Business Association Business Physical Disaster Loans
- U.S. SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
- U.S. SBA Real Estate & Equipment Loans
Additional loan and grant programs may be appropriate for your business. After registering with any of the programs listed above, check back to see what updates have been made.
Before, during and after a natural disaster, staying informed can make a critical difference. Knowing what’s happening and what resources are being made available at the local, state and federal levels can have a tremendous impact on your ability to help your business mount a speedy recovery.
Among the tools many states use are hotlines to centralized information sources. For example, in preparation for Hurricane Michael, Florida activated both the Private Sector Hotline for businesses and the Florida State Assistance Information Line for more general inquiries and support with regard to storm preparation and recovery.
In addition to the many resources identified here for business disaster assistance, your insurance broker can also be a resource as you navigate the sometimes-complex process of applying for and utilizing disaster relief. For businesses that are small, in particular, this kind of expertise can save significant time and money. Insurance brokers may also be able to provide insight into options for rebuilding and restoring after a disaster, as they may have experience with the contractors who do this work.
Natural disasters can leave devastation in their wakes. However, knowing your options, and knowing the support that is available to you, can help you to return to business as usual.