New Jersey Offers Support to Businesses Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

800px-Hurricane_Sandy_damage_Long_Beach_Island.jpgHurricane Sandy, also known as Superstorm Sandy, hit the east coast of the U.S. on October 29, 2012, causing catastrophic damage across the eastern seaboard, particularly in New Jersey and New York. After touring damaged areas several days after the storm made landfall, Governor Chris Christie called the damage “unthinkable.” The state’s death toll in early November stood at twenty-three, and power outages affected up to 2.7 million people. Estimates of total damages went above $20 billion, making Sandy one of the most brutal and damaging storms in U.S. history.

New York and northern New Jersey suffered significant damage to buildings and infrastructure. The storm had a drastic impact on New Jersey small businesses, with power, transportation, and communications disrupted throughout the state. Local, state, and federal government assistance has become available to help businesses regain their feet as the state rebuilds. Businesses should also review their insurance coverage and business contracts to see how the storm has affected their rights and obligations.

New Jersey has made a “Business Recovery Check List” available on its website to assist businesses in assessing damages, making repairs, and getting business operations started again. It includes tasks like contacting the business’ insurance representative, filing claims, and assessing structural damage and infrastructure losses. New Jersey’s Business Action Center has a hotline and website to assist businesses with disaster loans, disaster unemployment benefits, building inspections, and other disaster relief. The New Jersey Governor’s Office has announced multiple programs to provide micro-loans and additional insurance coverage to businesses affected by Sandy. REBUILD New Jersey, for example, is a program operated by New Jersey Community Capital that can provide loans between $10,000 and $30,000 to assist businesses with repairs and replacement of inventory or equipment.

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) opened business recovery centers in five New Jersey counties on November 9 to provide one-on-one assistance to business owners. The centers offered direct assistance with applications for SBA disaster loans. Businesses that suffered no physical damage could still qualify for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans, which help businesses recover from loss of revenue after a disaster, either due to a loss of suppliers or customers. SBA loans can provide businesses with working capital or with funds to repair damaged property, equipment, or inventory.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has established disaster centers in all New Jersey counties, although two of them were scheduled to close by the end of November. President Obama declared a disaster area in the state when the storm hit, making the entire state eligible for federal emergency assistance. FEMA had approved over $782 million in disaster assistance for people throughout the affected region by mid-November. The agency provides assistance to individuals, families, and small businesses in disaster areas.

The business attorneys at Samuel C. Berger, PC offer fixed-fee packages of legal services to businesses and entrepreneurs who want to do business in New York and northern New Jersey. To speak to a member of our skilled legal team, contact us today online or at (212) 380-8117.

Web Resources:

New Jersey Hurricane Sandy 2012 Relief and Recovery Assistance Guide (PDF file), United Way 2-1-1
FEMA-4086-DR, New Jersey Disaster Declaration as of 11/05/2012 (PDF file), Federal Emergency Management Agency, November 5, 2012
More Blog Posts:

Plan to Consolidate SBA into Larger Agency Causes Concern Among Small Business Owners, New York & New Jersey Business Lawyer Blog, January 19, 2012
State Small Business Credit Initiative Creates Loans for New York and New Jersey Small Businesses, New York & New Jersey Business Lawyer Blog, January 10, 2012
New Jersey Businesses Are Eligible for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans, New York & New Jersey Business Lawyer Blog, December 15, 2011
Photo credit: ‘Hurricane Sandy damage Long Beach Island’ by U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.