Getting your business back on track after a disaster—even if you have a recovery plan in place—can be difficult. As you begin to make critical decisions about the future of your business, consider these tips:
Assess damage and feasibility of re-opening
Closely examine the extent of the damage to your business property and contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Take pictures and video of any damage. If damage is extensive, consider when (or if) you can be back up and running normally. Look closely at costs of rebuilding and whether you can afford it. Determine if equipment is salvageable. Reach out to chambers of commerce, fellow business owners, and neighbors for support.
Begin your recovery plan
Every business should have a continuity plan in place. Now it’s time to put your recovery plan into action. It should include:
- Roles: Make sure staff you’ve assigned to recovery roles are still able to fulfill their duties.
- Communication: Keep employees, customers, and media informed about your operations. If you have any loans, notify lenders about the hardship you are experiencing.
- Re-calibration: If you find something in your recovery plan isn’t working, adjust as necessary and take note.
- Preparing for the future: Start thinking about how your business will look like once your facility is fully functional. If the facility isn’t operational, you need to seek another location and explore how you will market to customers there. If you’ve never created a disaster recovery plan, see our Preparing for a Disaster tipsheet or contact your local Small Business Development Center for help.
Stay flexible with operations
If your business property is unsafe to enter or condemned, work remotely from home or another location if possible. Do not assume you can jump right in and keep running your business at the same capacity as before the disaster. Give your employees and yourself time to readjust.
Explore financial products to rebuild
The Small Business Administration (SBA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides low-interest loans if you need to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a disaster.
Renters and homeowners can borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed: clothing, furniture, cars, appliances, etc. due to a disaster. Additionally, homeowners who need to repair or replace their primary residence may apply for up to $200,000. Learn more: disasterloan.sba.gov or call (800) 659-2955.
Small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private nonprofit organizations can apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) if they have suffered substantial economic injury in a declared disaster area. Learn more: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/EIDLLoans or call (800) 659-2955.
If an essential employee gets called-up to active duty as a military reservist and the business was unable to meet the normal and necessary operating expenses due to their absence, the business may be eligible to receive funding.
The Farm Service Agency provides a guide for farmers and ranchers for assistance with natural disaster losses from drought, flood, fire, snow, tornadoes, and pest infestation. Emergency loans are also available to help producers recover from production and physical losses due to the disasters.
Check eligibility for other relief
Apply for monetary assistance for housing and expenses such as: food, clothing, and medication with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Learn more: fema.gov or call (800) 621-3362.
Self-employed individuals who have lost their jobs due to federally declared disasters may be eligible for unemployment insurance. Learn more: California Employment Development Department, edd.ca.gov or
call (866) 333-4606.
Special tax law provisions that can help taxpayers and businesses recover financially from the impact of a disaster, especially when the federal government declares their location a major disaster
area. Contact the Internal Revenue Service at irs.gov for more information.
There are local and federal programs that can help you rebuild your business, get help for displaced employees and more. Check out our the Workforce, Development, Aging and Community Services’ Restoring Your Business guide here.