Chamber to aid storm recovery


Staff Writer

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Plenty of resources and advice will be available to businesses in the Twin Counties during the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

Alan Matthews, economic development director for the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the city of Rocky Mount, said he will be working closely with the Small Business and Technology Development Center in Greenville, which has a long history of helping businesses recover from disasters. 

Matthews will be assisted by Hallie Hawkins, business counselor at East Carolina University, in helping local business owners assess the storm’s financial impact on their business, reconstruct financial statements, explore options with creditors, create a recovery plan and help prepare Small Business Administration disaster loan applications.

“We wanted to get the word out early on connecting businesses that are negatively impacted by the hurricane with the right connections,” Matthews said.

SBTDC officials said in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, the SBA approved more than 132,000 low-interest disaster loans for a total of $6.8 billion. 

“While the SBA will always be ready to assist businesses, homeowners and renters after a declared disaster, having a preparedness plan in place will go a long way toward keeping your organization intact while supporting the long-term recovery of your community,” said Scott Daugherty, assistant vice chancellor and state director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center,

Daugherty said during and after the storm, it’s important for business owners to obtain an updated list of all their employees’ contact numbers and email addresses.

“You’ll want to make sure your team is safe and kept in the loop about the recovery progress,” Daugherty said. “If you have a large number of employees, you may want to consider a phone tree.”

Daugherty suggested business owners also should have access to their insurance policy information, especially policy numbers. If they are leasing a space, make sure the lease owner has contacted their insurance carrier and take pictures of damage, Daugherty added.

“Keep handy phone numbers for your insurance agent and the claims department,” Daugherty said. “Move your important business records, personal memorabilia and anything that’s irreplaceable to an offsite location. Save as much as you possibly can to the cloud.”

Business owners should also do their research to identify good restoration companies to help with the cleanup process. David Farris, president and CEO of the Rocky Mount Area Chamber, said prior hurricanes that came through the Twin Counties created construction opportunities for local workers.

“If your business is certified to sell goods and services to the federal, state or local government, there may be contracting opportunities during the hurricane recovery efforts,” Daugherty said.

Businesses are urged to check with www.sbtdc.org/hurricaneflorence for updated information on business recovery resources. 

Business can also go to www.sbtdc.org/hurricaneflorence to find out which counties FEMA and SBA declare as federal disaster areas. The declaration process can take several days. SBA has two types of loans: Physical damage and economic impact. You can learn more about these loans on the sbtdc website.

For assistance, contact Matthews at 252-973-1213 or 252-908-7285.

In addition, businesses and farms that may need assistance in recovering from damages — either physical or economic — as a result of the hurricane can find information by going to https://www.fema.gov/recoveryresources;  https://flood.nc.gov/ncflood/; https://www.fema.gov/what-do-if-your-business-or-farm-was-damaged#; http://files.constantcontact.com/cf77d748501/9b701e76-924c-4652-85f5-d3aa151d525d.pdf; and https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/reconstructing-records-after-a-natural-disaster-or-casualty-loss-irs-provides-tips-to-help-taxpayers.