FRANKFORT - The restoration of businesses impacted by the tornadoes, severe storms, straight-line winds and flooding Feb. 29-March 3 is essential to the Commonwealth’s recovery.
“History has proven the sooner local businesses recover following a disaster, the faster the community begins recovering,” said John Heltzel, director of Kentucky Emergency Management. “Which is why having an emergency, or disaster, operations plan is crucial.”
Kentucky Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration encourage businesses to prepare for future severe weather events.
Businesses with thorough disaster preparedness plans generally have less damage, less economic loss and less down time following a disaster. A plan also will assist a business’ community recovery more quickly following a disaster.
“Prepared businesses can really help minimize the impact a disaster has on a community,” said Libby Turner, federal officer in charge of the Kentucky recovery. “Local businesses are vital resources and economic engines so it’s a huge step toward recovery if they’re able to reopen quickly after a disaster.”
Businesses should consider several elements in preparing for a disaster. Not only is it important to protect the staff, building, data and company inventory during a damaging event; it also is critical to prepare a plan to continue operations in case most everything is destroyed. A good plan may include provisions to relocate to a pre-identified site, retrieve business records, and a way to operate efficiently with a smaller staff of key individuals.
FEMA provides a step-by-step approach to emergency planning, response and recovery for companies of all sizes in its Emergency Management Guide for Business and Industry, a checklist for business recovery, and other “how to” resources at www.fema.gov/business.
Business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties must register for assistance. The deadline to apply for physical damage loans is May 7. For economic injury disaster loans, the application deadline is Dec. 6. Businesses may borrow up to $2 million for physical damage and economic injury in a low-interest disaster loan from the SBA.
For information about SBA’s disaster loan assistance, call the SBA toll-free at 800-659-2955 or visit SBA online at www.sba.gov. For those who use TTY, the number is 800-877-8339.
More disaster specific information can be found on the Kentucky Emergency Management website at www.kyem.ky.gov.