THE INITIAL SHOCK OF STORM DAMAGE may be passing only to be followed by feeling daunted. Don’t give in, however. Start the process of recovery as soon as you can. NYC Small Business Services and NYC Severe Weather have issued these guidelines:
- Contact your insurance broker/agent immediately. Make sure you get the proper forms to file a claim.
- Survey any damage, but exercise caution; 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 set up a system to save receipts for replacement items or repair work. Keep track of ALL expenses with receipts and make notes with explanations. These will be essential when you need to show proof of 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. Prompt demolition of the damaged sheetrock may protect other parts.
- 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. If possible, work with contractors who have experience in dealing with natural disasters and are familiar with precautions on lead paint and asbestos.
Register for Federal Assistance. Anyone affected by Sandy, including homeowners, renters, and businesses, can call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or visit www.disasterassistance.gov to register for federal disaster assistance. This site offers a sensible outline of steps to find assistance, including a diagnostic questionnaire to determine what aid you might be eligible for. Without leaving the site, you can: learn what information you need gather in order to apply online; make your application; check your status later.
Our Senators have info. Senator Kristin Gillibrand has issued a Guide to Disaster Assistance and Relief Funding. A section of the downloadable pdf discusses mold prevention. Senator Chuck Shumer’s office has a Hurricane Sandy recovery website.
Ask for help locally. If your computer was underwater and so you couldn’t authorize the automatic transfers or you incurred overdraft fees for some hurricane-related reason, Chase will waive some fees on Monday, November 5. You must act quickly, however, and get it done during this one-day window. Bank of America has said that it will automatically waive many charges incurred during “hurricane week” of October 29 through November 5. Similar support may be available from other banks in this area. Local branches are the best window.
NYC Business Emergency Loans up to $10,000 and $25,000 for small businesses may be applied for online through an account manager at NYC Business Solutions.
The NYC Economic Development Corporation is making some temporary office space available at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park.
If you belong to a guild, trade association or similar business group, you may find support from other members. Even competitors may step up to help you through the first stages of recovery. Hard though it may be, now is the time to ask, while everyone is in the grips of emotion over the disaster.