Region IV | Resources

When Disaster Hits, The SBA Stands Ready To Assist

By Mark S. Hayward, Regional Administrator (A)

In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, individuals, business owners and others are wondering how they will recover from the ruin and destruction they face, especially if they are underinsured or have no insurance at all. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is here to assist.

During and immediately following a disaster, federal agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), engage to rescue and ensure safety, if needed. Others, including the SBA, aid with recovery and rebuilding in partnership with other federal, state and local organizations.

This has happened right here across the Southeast in response to Hurricane Irma as well as other natural disasters that have taken place including flooding and tornadoes. So, you don’t need a Harvey or Irma to get help from the federal government, as the SBA supports several types of declared disasters.

The SBA’s disaster program is the agency’s largest and only direct loan program. Under it, the SBA offers two types of disaster loans – physical and economic injury – to assist those affected. The loans will assist in recovery with access to low-interest and fixed rate capital during a difficult time.

The physical disaster loans are not just for businesses to rebuild disaster-damaged property and replace equipment. They are also available to non-profits, homeowners and renters to help with their privately owned real estate, clothing, furniture, etc. The economic injury loans provide working capital to organizations struggling to meet their financial obligations due to the disaster. Access to those lines of credit for a small business can make the difference between a business surviving or folding.

Overall in FY16, the SBA assisted more than 46,000 businesses and individuals through $2.8 billion in disaster loans and since 1953, has approved more than two million disaster loans for nearly $55 billion. This includes relief for some of the costliest disasters in U.S. history, including Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, the Northridge, Calif., earthquake and others.

Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you certainly can and that preparation can help a business stay in business and individuals recover faster when catastrophe strikes. The SBA supports this planning as well with a variety of resources, including detail on how to create a preparation program, building a preparedness kit, checklists, safety tips, online courses, videos, webinars, and more.

September is National Preparedness Month, making it the ideal time, with plans in place, for businesses and individuals to do test runs. This is especially important for small businesses as they typically have all their operations in one area and run a higher risk of not recovering.

Between the disaster loans and various tools and education offerings, the SBA works to help small businesses plan and protect their assets.  Along with other federal agencies and partners, the SBA assists businesses, homeowners and renters recover quickly when disasters hit.

For more information, visit www.sba.gov/disaster. For specific business-related detail, go to www.sba.gov/prepare and for individual-related detail, visit www.ready.gov.

For home owners, renters and small businesses affected by Hurricane Irma, please visit https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/hurricane-irma to apply for assistance.

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