Disaster Relief Resources For Businesses

Posted on June 29, 2011

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The recent tornadoes and series of severe storms in Alabama left not only personal tragedy and loss in their wake, but also many business losses. The effect of a natural disaster on a small business can range from physical damage to a business’ premises to a negative economic impact from loss of customers. Whether it was physical damage or the loss of business, many small business owners are now questioning the viability of their business’s future. However, there are resources available to help businesses recover from, and also prepare for, these unforeseen events – most of them provided by the federal government.

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), the most effective course of action for small businesses facing potential disaster is to think ahead, even for the scenarios that seem unthinkable, and create a plan. A reliable, checklist-style model of a strategic emergency management plan can be found on the SBA’s website.

When a business disaster preparation plan does not exist, or was ineffective, businesses can still take reactive measures that are facilitated by the SBA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). After a disaster, a business can contact FEMA and apply for assistance, which comes in the form of a low-interest, long-term loan that is available to businesses without insurance coverage in the categories of physical disaster and economic injury. In addition to these loans, FEMA can provide tax relief assistance to businesses that also fall into these categories, and the businesses can file a deduction of their losses if necessary.

The newest disaster-relief practice proven most effective for businesses in cities such as Tuscaloosa, and most recently Athens and Guntersville, includes the SBA-installed Business Recovery Information Centers. These centers provide services such as temporary office space, legal advice, and informative seminars for business owners in need.

The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance for the April tornadoes has been extended to July 18. According to SBA representatives, the most effective plan of action right now for any business is to apply in time so their needs can be assessed quickly and effectively following any natural disaster.

* Photo by Saiuri.

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