By Derrek J. Hull, Blogger-in-Chief
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, many have suffered property damage, and millions of individuals and businesses on the East Coast have lost power, with New York and New Jersey among the states hardest hit by the storm.
With winds registering in the 80-mile-per-hour range, "Sandy" made landfall Oct. 29 in New Jersey, wreaking havoc from the Jersey shore to Atlantic City to Hoboken. Along the entire Eastern Seaboard, heavy flooding and other damage has caused a number of small businesses, including restaurants, to shutter at least temporarily.
President Obama has declared states of disaster in New York, New Jersey, Virginia and West Virginia, and has allocated federal emergency aid to assist individuals in those areas. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, funding is available to state and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures. Other assistance could include low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses.
Restaurant operators in need of assistance or information on how to apply for disaster relief can apply for assistance by registering online, or by calling 1-800-FEMA (3362). Speech or hearing-impared individuals can call 1-800-462-7585. The toll-free phone numbers are operating daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT. You can also follow FEMA online at blog.fema.gov, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. In addition, the Small Business Association is offering loan assistance.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said his group is advising its members to maintain safety and follow official instructions as they clean up and prepare to reopen their establishments.
"Depending on where a business is located and the nature of the damage, we may advise them differently, but generally, we are encouraging operators to stay safe and take their cues from officials," Rigie said. "If they are able to open, they may want to coordinate operations, such as staffing, with their executive management teams and staff members.
"Right now," he continued, "most restaurateurs are evaluating the damage at their establishments and, if possible, are trying to get open to serve their neighborhoods."