A natural disaster as epic and catastrophic as Hurricane Sandy was not anything anyone ever expected to see or experience. The estimated cost of the damage continues to rise, with one York Dispatch article estimating it may cost up to $50 billion, with $10 to $30 billion of that lost in business.
Business will now have to use their continuity plans to move forward. However, many probably never planned for an event as destructive as Hurricane Sandy and are in need of disaster recovery resources.
Disaster Assistance and FEMA
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) advises businesses in need of assistance to apply for disaster relief through DisasterAssistance.gov. They help determine which type of assistance businesses need, provide applications and convenient ways to check the status of an application.
In addition to online, people can also call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with internet access can follow FEMA on their website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube page for continuous updates and safety information. Those without internet but do have cell phone service can use the FEMA smartphone app or sign up for regular FEMA text updates.
The Small Business Association (SBA) is offering assistance as well. SBA says “businesses can apply for damages to their real estate or business or business contents and for economic loss.” Those who would like to apply can do so online through the Electronic Loan Application.
Other places businesses can apply for assistance include: IRS Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief (scroll to the “For Businesses” section), FEMA’s Crisis Counseling, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, legal services and special tax considerations and Business Recovery Fund Assistance.
Cleanup, Food and Safety
There are several precautions that must be taken when cleaning up after a natural disaster. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Emergency Preparedness and Response page includes information on how to go about the cleanup process. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also includes information for those recovering from a hurricane in the hurricane recovery portion of their website.
Food safety is critical. Food Safety News includes several tips in their article Hurricane Food Safety 101 in regards to storage, power outages and flooding.
Nov. 5 UPDATE:
As we’ve blogged many times at Central, food allergies are very serious and in such a devastating time, those with allergies not only have to deal with the devastation, but also have to be even more aware about any food they accept. Victoria Reitano of Staten Island has started an initiative to bring gluten-free, allergy free food to Hurricane Sandy victims. Read her latest blog.
Also, read a blog post from Sloane Miller of Allergic Girl Inc. regarding food allergies and the hurricane on her blog.
For those without power, the Huffington Post reports the Department of Energy (DOE) is “working with states and local partners as the electric industry engages in power restoration efforts.” At this point, the best thing to do if you’re without power is to have patience. For information, the DOE has situation reports on their website that are updated as regularly as possible.
Google also has a map with power outage information, with the options to view shelters and recovery centers, FEMA disaster declared areas, traffic conditions and other information.
The CDC provides worker safety resources and other tips when going through a hurricane or storm.
For the employers in need of information about pay, Business and Legal Resources released an article with an overview of federal laws applicable for emergency situations including: Pay for employees (FLSA), nonexempt employees, exempt employees and employees on leave (FMLA).
Through this disaster, the goal of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) “is to proivde resources and assistance to members of the impacted payroll and practitioner community.” Employers can find this information on the IRS’ Disaster Relief Resource Center for Tax Professionals.
Jeffrey S. Nowak of Franczek Radelet Attorneys and Counselors addressed some questions and issues employers may have such as “how do you you pay your employees during suspended operations?” and “Whether and to what extent should health benefits and other benefits be offered.”
Nov. 5 UPDATE:
The IRS has moved the return filing and tax payment deadline to Feb. 1, 2013 for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Read more details in this article.
The hurricane has also interrupted mail service through the United States Postal Service (USPS). Find information about mailings, FedEx transportation, drop shipments and other information on the About page on the USPS website. Business owners with questions can visit the USPS’ RIBBS National Customer Support Center.