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How Small Businesses Can Get Help to Recover From Hurricane Sandy

By Carla Zanoni | November 1, 2012 7:05pm

NEW YORK CITY — As small business owners begin digging out their businesses in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, navigating available programs can be a challenge.

In order to address their needs, several city agencies and officials have compiled tips for small and mid-sized businesses and a list of ways to get help.

According to Ariel Ferreira, chair of the business development committee for Manhattan’s Community Board 12, small business owners should follow these steps immediately.

  • Contact your insurance broker/agent immediately. Make sure you get the proper forms to file a claim.
  • Survey any damage; enter a severely damaged building ONLY after local authorities have deemed it safe to do so.
  • Document damages and losses: Photograph/videotape any damage to your business and save receipts for replacement items or repair work. Keep track of ALL expenses with receipts and notes of explanations. These will come in handy when you need to make proof these expenses.
  • Look for safety hazards such as live wires, leaking gas or flammable liquids, poisonous gases, and damage to foundations or underground piping and notify the appropriate utility companies or emergency responders of any such safety hazards
  • Dry all areas and items quickly and thoroughly to prevent mold growth; food establishments especially should examine all surfaces, including sheet rock, for evidence of mold and take appropriate action immediately.
  • Begin salvage as soon as possible to prevent further damage; cover broken windows and torn roof coverings immediately to protect merchandise / business from further damage.
  • Separate damaged goods from undamaged goods, but beware of accumulating too much combustible debris inside of a building.
  • Notify contractors to start repairs - after ensuring that safety systems are fully implemented before any work is allowed to begin.


The New York City Department of Small Business Services and the New York City Economic Development Corporation say business owners can also look into the following programs for assistance.

Small to mid-sized businesses facing business interruption can apply for NYC Business Emergency Loans with loans capped at $10,000. For information, call 311 or apply online.

For businesses facing displacement, the city has short-term “swing” office space available at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, free of charge for 30 days. Those interested must apply online.

Mid-to-large-sized businesses can take advatnage of an emergency sales tax letter from New York City Industrial Development Authority (IDA) to avoid payment of New York City and New York State sales taxes on materials purchased for rebuilding. Contact Shin Mitsugi at smitsugi@nycedc.com for information.

Federal aid programs for State of New York Disaster Recovery are also available:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides loans for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance, and for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster. To learn more contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362.

In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides loans to individuals, families and businesses in an area whose property has been damaged or destroyed following a Presidential-declared disaster whose losses are not covered by insurance. Contact the SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 for more information.

Further information about these programs and others is available in Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Guide to Disaster Assistance and Relief Funding and Sen. Charles Schumer’s Hurricane Sandy recovery website.