It’s the most horrible time of the year. Once again, tragedy and devastation in the form of a major hurricane has struck the southeastern United States, and the cleanup efforts will be an absolute bear. Early estimates put the damage caused by Florence around $17 billion to $22 billion. From a macro view, it can bring a sigh of relief, particularly in the shadow of the relatively larger Hurricane Harvey, which caused $125 billion. For the boots on the ground, however, the damage certainly won’t seem any less severe.
Small business owners carry the burden of not only repairing or rebuilding their own homes, but their businesses as well. Unlike larger chains which have connections to ample resources to rebuild, small businesses typically don’t have that luxury. Fortunately, as business owners in the Carolinas and other impacted areas look to pick up the pieces, there is certainly help available.
SBA and Hurricane Relief
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is devoted to ensuring the success of small businesses, and offer great options to help businesses get what they need to thrive, or to rebuild. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the SBA approved $367 million in low-interest disaster relief loans to roughly 4,500 businesses in south Texas. They’re already underway with loan options for those who have been impacted by Florence. You can see if your area is eligible for disaster relief financing here.
How to Get Help
In relatively less stressful times, SBA loans are excellent tools for small business owners. They offer low rates, reasonable terms for repayment on loans for everything from working capital to purchasing furniture. They offer specialty loans for purchasing land or buildings, or building or adding onto facilities.
Before applying for an SBA Disaster Loan, you should first check to see if the damages to your business can be covered either by your insurance, or by funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). You can start by making a flood claim with them to see how they can help your business get back and operating relatively quickly. You should also check up on your business credit score, which can carry significant weight in the loan terms you receive. You can check it for free with Nav.
SBA Disaster loans are divided into two general categories: Physical Damage and Economic Injury. Physical Damage is exactly what it sounds like; a loan to cover the cost of replacing or repairing physical assets lost in an SBA-declared disaster. Economic Injury loans cover small business operating expenses in the wake of an SBA-declared disaster.
Odds are that post-Florence repairs on your business weren’t in your budget. The debt from taking out a Disaster Loan could be a huge burden on your business. Remember, however, that the SBA is there to help your business succeed, and has a vested interest in keeping your business going after a disaster.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey last year, the SBA instructed its lenders to provide 12-month deferment of principal and interest payments for SBA-serviced business and disaster loans after Hurricane Harvey. That allowed SBA Loan customers to feel some relief from the added debt for a 12-month period, and such a policy may be in the plans for Hurricane Florence relief efforts.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead of you, just remember that there is help available. As in any situation involving lending or financing, don’t be afraid to ask. Between your own insurance, FEMA relief, and SBA Disaster Loans, not even a hurricane can stop your small business and your dream from carrying forward.