If you are in an area where Hurricane Sandy tore through, you are in our thoughts and prayers. We hope you and your loved ones are safe and secure.
However, if you are a small business owner, and especially someone who runs a brick and mortar business it’s highly likely that Sandy will have caused at least some amount of damage.
After all, Sandy is estimated to cost insurance companies $5bn to $10bn and total cost to economic activity between $10bn to $20bn and is estimated to be he most expensive hurricane in the history of the US yet.
Even if you have insurance cover for flood and wind damage, fallen trees and fire and you have suffered relatively less damage you might not be out of the woods as far as business is concerned. Your vendors and suppliers might not be that fortunate and your customers and employees would be preoccupied in post disaster recovery for quite some time.
And for businesses that are located in the affected areas but serve other places in the country the timing of Sandy would be bad. This is the peak holiday buying season and the longer you stay out of business the more losses you will have to sustain.
Here is a list of things small business owners should take care of so that they can hit the ground running.
1. Check on your employees and partners
After your family, your employees, vendors, suppliers and partners are the most important people that you need to get in touch with as soon as the worst of the storm has passed. This will help you give an idea of how much time it will take for your employees and colleagues to get back to work.
2.Check on your offices and facilities
You would also need to take a look at the actual damages the hurricane would have caused to your offices and workshop or storage spaces. But before you venture out, tune in to warnings from first responders and disaster management authorities like FEMA. Many areas are not yet safe because of the risk of electrocution from snapped electric lines, or because of damage to roads and bridges.
Only go out when you have got the all clear from the authorities.
3. Take stock of any damage
In case you are able to approach your place of business, check out the state of everything inside, from computers to machinery to cash machines. Also check out damage from flooding and water damage to walls, and damage from debris like fallen trees that involves a significant amount of money to fix.
Document all the damages, take photos and video. You will need them when you file your insurance claims.
4. Apply for disaster aid and soft loans
There are a number of government and semi government agencies that provides aid and low interest loans for small businesses that are impacted by disasters like Sandy. They include disaster assistance for areas that are declared affected by a Presidential order, economic injury disaster loans that provide a minimum amount of working capital during the crucial first days, physical disaster loans and tax relief.
Check out this comprehensive list of resources, along with the URLs of disbursing agencies.
5. Check your data backups, and restore them.
I am assuming that you have backed up all your data offsite, on the cloud before battening down the hatches.. If yes, then you should start the restoration process as soon as power is up, so that you will have access to all the necessary records. You will need a lot of business related data in the coming days when you go filing for insurance claims or seeking financial assistance.
And in case you haven’t, please sign up for a backup and recovery service like Crashplan. Most of these services will instal a client on your computer, and will periodically backup the data in preselected folders automatically.
6 Create a business continuity plan
While you are at it, it’s not too late to create a business continuity plan for the next disaster. Business continuity plans include having an alternate number to re-route your important phone calls, investing in a content distribution network that keeps your website online even if your webhost is down and keeping a list of alternate suppliers who can step in if your regular guy is affected.
I hope you get back on your feet as soon as possible. Please share your own tips for post hurricane recovery in the comments below.
Photo Courtesy SaundiSeptember