Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Highlight Small Businesses’ Need to be Prepared

Hurricane Harvey Recovery Highlights Struggles of Small Businesses After Disasters

With recovery starting after Hurricane  Harvey in Houston and Floridians just beginning to emerge after Hurricane Irma, it a good reminder for  small businesses everywhere to rethink their preparedness.  Meanwhile businesses in both locations will be facing the challenge to try to rebuild.

Small Businesses After Disasters

Big box retailers and huge businesses in the area are more likely to have the resources to repair damages and restock their inventory quickly. But small businesses are the ones often left reeling, taking much longer to return to normal operations.

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With estimations of the cost of Irma alone being in the $300 billion range by some reports, it’s easy to see why.

In Houston specifically, wind and serious flooding has left businesses with damage to their buildings, loss of inventory, mold issues and more. And with airports and major roads just starting to reopen, businesses may also struggle with reaching their employees and potential customers even if they’re able to get the damage cleared up quickly.

Time will tell the amount of damage Irma has done.

To speed up recovery, the Small Business Administration recommends small businesses register for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, contact their insurance offices and check into the possibility of loan deferments for existing loans.

Meanwhile Melinda Zetlin, co-author of The Geek Gap, insists even before a storm begins, business owners should consider how to keep their buildings secure during a disaster,  how to keep your employees safe, how to keep data and documents safe and how to pay employees during and after a disaster.

No matter how prepared your business is, rebuilding after disasters as destructive as Harvey and Irma is going to be a struggle. But there are things you can do to make the rebuilding process just a bit easier on your business.

For instance, if you have flood insurance, you can alleviate some of the costs involved with putting your business back together. You can also assess your risks before a disaster hits and create an emergency plan, including a communication strategy and contingencies for possible outcomes of a disaster.

Businesses in Houston and Florida face a lengthy rebuilding process that will likely see some small businesses fold altogether. But small businesses are important to the communities they serve. So being prepared beforehand and dedicating resources to rebuilding after the fact are paramount.

Flood Photo via Shutterstock
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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

One Reaction
  1. Hi Annie! You are absolutely right, small businesses need to be prepared. Unfortunately a big percentage is not. There is a perception that as small businesses they cannot afford to plan and prepare, but the reality is that what they cannot afford is not to be prepared. There are many things business owners can do before the event to protect property, inventory and minimize losses. After the event, disaster assistance will most likely be a disaster loan. There is a need for a plan and strategy to mitigate risks, reduce hazards, and recover quickly. We don’t want to return to a before the event situation, we want to recover stronger and better.

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