Six Months After Hurricane Sandy: Have Small Businesses Recovered?

Six months after Hurricane Sandy, help is still trickling in for small businesses.
April 23, 2013

Hampton Inn and Suites Newark-Harrison-Riverwalk in Harrison, N.J., uses its proximity to the Passaic River as a pitch to lure business executives and tourists who want to visit Newark or New York City. But that proximity also cost the hotel dearly when the river overflowed during Hurricane Sandy, destroying a large part of the first floor of the 165-room hotel. The hotel had to shut its doors for almost four months—finally reopening on March 15.

Six months after Hurricane Sandy, many businesses continue to struggle. The small-business community was particularly devastated: Hurricane Sandy negatively affected 60,000 to 100,000 small businesses and, according to the U.S. Chamber Foundation as reported in Forbes, up to 30 percent of those companies will fail as a direct result of the storm.

In an effort to assess the magnitude of Sandy’s damage to small businesses, The Hartford, an insurance company, surveyed 451 small-business owners in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. The Hartford's survey reported that:

  • Fifty-two percent of the surveyed businesses lost sales or revenues.
  • About 75 percent of the businesses had to close for at least one day. Approximately 44 percent of the businesses that closed were shuttered for at least one week. Seventy-one percent of the businesses lost power for at least one day.
  • Sixty-five percent of the owners surveyed said they had customer issues because of Sandy, while 47 percent had employee issues and 44 percent had supplier issues.

Small-business owners’ affected by the storm made the following recommendations for those concerned about future disasters:

  • Review your property insurance coverage (23 percent of respondents)
  • Invest in a generator (21 percent)
  • Back up important records (15 percent)
  • Formulate a business contingency plan (14 percent)  

A National Hurricane Center report concluded, “Severe damage to small businesses occurred in New Jersey, with nearly 19,000 businesses sustaining damage of $250,000 or more, and total business losses estimated at $8.3 billion.” 

The report didn’t estimate Hurricane Sandy’s damage to New York City’s small-business community, but it said the city sustained $19 billion in damage. New York City officials, the City Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are still working on measures to help small businesses shuttered by Sandy reopen.

In March, Bloomberg issued an executive order that waived fees that small businesses ordinarily pay the city for reconstruction and repair permits if the companies were in areas most affected by Sandy, including Broad Channel, Forest Hills, Howard Beach, Ozone Park and The Rockaways. The city is also considering refunding small businesses that already paid for reconstruction and repair permits and is sponsoring insurance seminars for small businesses affected by Sandy.

Read more articles on the disaster recovery post Sandy.

Martin has written and edited for 30 years. He blogs via Contently.com.

Photo: Getty Images