The tornado that ripped through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday could be the costliest tornado in U.S. history. Already, some forecasters have estimated damages could reach as high as $6 billion, well more than the $2.8 billion in damages caused by the 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri.
It may take weeks to assess the full cost of the storm to the local business community. But it’s already clear that many businesses—including a local bowling alley and movie theater in Moore, Oklahoma—were damaged or completely destroyed. (See this New York Times infographic.)
Small-business owners afflicted by the storm have several financial resources available to help them clean up, rebuild and revive their operations. President Obama pledged to provide federal aid to tornado-affected areas through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Businesses interested in receiving federal aid grants should apply with FEMA by calling 1-800-621-3362 or visiting DisasterAssistance.gov.
The U.S. Small Business Administration also offers physical disaster loans of up to $2 million to repair damaged or destroyed business property, equipment, inventory and other uninsured losses. The SBA also provides loans to cover working capital costs, such as rent, that can’t be paid for due to the disaster. Both types of loans carry 4 percent interest rates and terms of up to 30 years. (Nonprofits can also apply for these loans and qualify for a lower interest rate.)
Businesses interested in applying for SBA loans should visit the SBA website or call its customer service line at 1-800-659-2955.
Insurers will also be a key resource in post-tornado cleanup and relief. Businesses affected by the tornado will want to keep detailed records and paperwork of their post-storm expenses in case they need to make claims with their insurance company. Many insurers will cover business interruption if the structure of the building was damaged and the business loses income, Judith Spry, an insurance claims expert, told ABCNews.com.
People looking to support relief efforts can donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. (Texting the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 will make an automatic $10 donation to the fund through your wireless bill.) Several other nonprofits and religious organizations in Oklahoma and around the U.S., including food banks and groups donating supplies, are coordinating their own relief efforts. Read about these organizations and guidelines for vetting charities here.
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