Guest Op-Ed: Rebuilding small businesses after Sandy

Touring areas like the Far Rockaways and Red Hook, it’s clear that Sandy-related damage has devastated New York City. Our small businesses — the backbone of our economy — were some of the hardest-hit storm victims. Ensuring small businesses get back on their feet as quickly as possible is imperative to our recovery.

After going door-to-door in areas most affected by Sandy, where we surveyed needs and assessed damage sustained in many neighborhoods, my office compiled a guide to take small business owners through the recovery process. Here’s an outline of the assistance available:

  • Insurance: Check your insurance policy to see what your plan covers. Every policy is different. It’s critical that you contact your insurance company and document the damage as soon as you can. Governor Cuomo signed an executive order requiring insurance companies to accept photo and video documentation of damage as evidence, so you don’t have to wait for an adjuster visit first.
  • Emergency Loans: NYC Small Business Services (SBS) offers loans up to $10,000 within seven to 10 days of applying. You can apply for this as a “bridge loan” for quick short-term relief to small businesses. There is no interest for the first six months. Find more information here:

    Businesses and private non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million from the Small Business Administrators (SBA) loan program for long-term business recovery and rebuilding. To learn more, visit or call the SBA hotline at 1-800-659-2955.

  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance:  Whether it’s personal injury, workplace damage or transportation hurdles, a disaster like Hurricane Sandy can lead to a loss of income. If that’s your case, you and your employees may be eligible for compensation – up to $405/week, for up to 27 weeks – through the state’s Department of Labor’s Disaster Unemployment Assistance. The deadline to apply is Monday, December 3, 2012.
  • To apply, call 1-888-209-8124. Have the following information ready: Social Security number, NYS driver license or Motor Vehicle ID number (if you have one), mailing address and zip code, phone number where you can be reached for additional information, alien registration card number (if you have one) and the names and addresses of all employers you worked for within the 18 months prior to October 29, 2012.
  • Other Business Assistance: Free short-term office space is available at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. Contact 311 and ask for NYC Business Solutions. Additionally, tax exemption from NYC and NYS state taxes is available for rebuilding materials. Contact Shin Mitsugi at for further information.
  • Individual assistance for those affected by Hurricane Sandy is also available through FEMA. Visit for more information.

For more tips on rebuilding small businesses in our city, please review our “Path to Recovery” guide, at If you have questions, contact the Public Advocate’s small business hotline at 212-669-4691. We are here to help you in any way we can.

Bill de Blasio is New York City Public Advocate

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