Our hearts are with the communities in Acadiana and other impacted areas dealing with Hurricane Laura's devastating aftermath. In this time of need, One Acadiana is committed to providing resources and tools to help small businesses recover after disaster strikes.
Outlined below are six steps to consider as you start your recovery journey. We strongly urge business owners to take these first few steps, to be deliberate in their recovery. We are here to provide one-on-one advice and expertise to help you navigate the recovery process. If we can be of assistance, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (337) 233-2705.
Six Hurricane Recovery Tips
1. Safety is a Primary Concern
It’s important to remember that floodwater is not clean water. It could be contaminated and hazardous to your health. Make sure to take proper precautions when accessing your facility and know that the water could leave contaminates behind after it recedes. Always wear protective gear, including masks and gloves. Also, remember standing water can increase the presence of mosquitoes, so use bug spray as well. Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention site to learn more about additional safety concerns and precautions.
2. Document Everything
Many business owners are anxious to start the clean-up process, but don’t forget to document everything first and send it to your insurance company. Take photos and videos as soon as you gain access to your business for insurance purposes. Take these photos and videos from different angles—the more, the better. Also, do not just document damage to your physical structures, document damages to inventory, supplies, furniture, contents, equipment, and business losses from interruption.
Additionally, back up all your documentation to cloud storage, as this will ensure you always have your documentation for insurance purposes. Also track expenses, keep receipts or invoices for all clean-up supplies, repairs, and replacement of damaged property purchased due to flooding.
3. Clean as Quickly as Possible
Once the water recedes and you’ve documented any damage, begin cleaning your business as quickly as possible. Mold and bacteria can appear quickly when the damage from flooding is not immediately addressed. If you still have standing water, rent a sump pump to remove it.
Make sure to clean then disinfect every surface using hot water and a strong cleaner, like chlorine bleach. Take furniture outside to dry or use a dehumidifier. Remove water-contaminated wallboards, plaster, floorboards, and paneling. For how to clean equipment and other items, visit floodsafety.com/national/property/cleanup/.
4. Register for Federal Assistance
Even if your business doesn’t have any immediately apparent damage, it is still important to register for federal assistance before the deadline occurs. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers low-interest loans for physical damage and economic injury. Get their frequently asked questions factsheet about these loans and how to apply. There is no obligation to accept these funds, but businesses should keep their options open in case they chose to later. Also, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has grants if business owners or their employees were impacted at home. For more information, go to disasterassistance.gov.
5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communicate with staff, vendors, suppliers, customers, your local chambers, and the community. Establish communication lines early and update your progress cleaning up and when you’ll be reopening. Check-in with all your staff to make sure they are OK, and that their family and loved ones are safe.
Social media is a great way to communicate with many different audiences quickly. If you are closed for an extended period, you can keep your customers aware of your progress and encourage them to join you in your reopening. Let us know that you are open for business and we’ll help spread the word.
6. Celebrate Milestones
The business recovery process is immense, stressful, and labor-intensive. When people are already busy and potentially burdened by recovery efforts, celebrating milestones may seem frivolous. But do not overlook the need to address your employees’ mental health and assure that their hard work has a purpose, progress is being made, and light exists at the end of the tunnel.
Support and promote recovery events that bring together the community and share other resources to assist individuals, families, businesses, and other organizations. Celebrate your reopening and highlight your goods and services as an opportunity to market to potential new customers, especially those waiting on other businesses to reopen.