Here’s What to do if You are a Small Business Owner Struggling After IRMA


September 13, 2017

Even though Hurricane Irma missed South Florida, many small business owners are suffering from wind/flooding damage, power outages and loss of revenue.

Here’s a quick list of tips and to-do recommendations for owners of small businesses (defined in the state of Florida as an independently owned venture with 200 or fewer full-time employees and a net worth of less than $5 million):

Hurricane Irma toppled a Shell gas station sign on the corner of NW 36th Street and Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami. Roberto Koltun rkoltun@miamiherald.com

▪  The Insurance Information Institute recommends business owners contact their insurance agents as quickly as possible to start the claim process. On the to-do list:

1) Take photos or video of damaged property, along with records that prove the value of damaged or lost equipment and inventory.

2) Gather proof of revenue the business was generating before and after the storm’s interruption began. That should include revenue or sales documents, expense reports, profit and loss statements, inventory reports and revenue forecasts.

3) Be prepared to show damaged property to insurance adjusters. There may be more than one, depending on the type of business coverage you carry.

4) Get more than one bid from contractors for repairs of physical property/structural damage.

5) Keep a list of the names and phone numbers of everyone you speak to regarding the claim.

▪  The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program offers short-term loans of $1,000-$25,000 with no interest to any small business (defined as having two to 100 employees) that was impacted physically or financially by Hurricane Irma.

The loans are not intended to make up for lost revenue. Instead, the money is intended to help business owners stay afloat until insurance payments or regular revenues kick in. Deadline for applications is Oct. 31. Loans must be repaid in either 90, 180 days, depending on circumstances. Visit www.floridadisasterloan.org or call 850-898-3489.

▪  The U.S. Small Business Administration is also offering business physical damage loans (up to $2 million) to repair or replace machinery and equipment, and economic injury disaster loans (up to $2 million) to help businesses meet financial obligations and operating expenses throughout the disaster recovery period. Businesses must first register with FEMA , then apply for the loan here. The deadline for damage loans is Nov. 9. The deadline for economic loans is June 11, 2018.

▪  The Miami-Dade Beacon Council recommends business owners affected by the storm fill out the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) damage survey, which assesses the losses businesses suffered as a result of Hurricane Irma. The results will help state officials determine where best to channel relief efforts and funds.

▪  File for a tax extension. The Internal Revenue Service has extended deadlines for businesses that were originally due to file returns and make payments by Sept. 15, as well as quarterly payroll and excise tax returns due Oct. 31. The new deadline is Jan. 31, 2018. Go to IRS.gov for more details.

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