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Small Business Relief in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Building in chelsea damaged by SandyLarge cities and small towns across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are now recovering from Hurricane Sandy, one of the most devastating storms to have ever struck the East Coast of our country. The images are heart-wrenching, the personal suffering is real and the need is enormous. Many individuals and families are still without the most basic necessities of life…food, clean water, heat and a safe and secure home.

One of the groups being relied upon most to help bring stability, hope, community spirit and pride back to these neighborhoods is small businesses. As a CPA devoted toyour small business clients or your organization, as well as to your friends and neighbors, you are more than a trusted counselor on disaster recovery. You are also the go-to source for the public- and private-sector organizations that can best help small business owners get their businesses up and running, and disaster victims get their lives back on track. Rich Caturano, CPA, CGMA, chairman of the AICPA has contributed a blog post detailing AICPA resources and tools to help CPAs through this difficult time.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration are also offering help to you and your clients in a number of ways, with no-collateral loans, disaster recovery advice and other resources. The AICPA has a long-standing relationship with the SBA and has been a resource for them since 2007 when we signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Last Saturday, Jim Metzler, CPA, AICPA vice president – small firm interests, and I, as representatives of the Institute, attended a call in which the SBA Administrator, Karen Mills, and others laid out the support they are providing to individuals and small business. Following are some basics about what is available:

Overall federal agency efforts: usa.gov/sandy.

FEMA: FEMA.gov and 800.321.3362
FEMA should be your first source to apply for assistance, even if you’re uncertain of the need for or extent of assistance. FEMA has committed more than $120M for rental assistance and is working with a number of organizations to ensure safety and recovery of individuals and business. Filling out the FEMA application will prepare you and your clients for assistance through the SBA; your FEMA claim information will carry over to your application to the SBA.

SBA: sba.gov/disaster and 800.659.2955

Generally, SBA disaster loans are being processed to a decision in about 10 days, with five-day disbursement availability after the loan closing process is complete. There are online applications, but you can also visit one of the Disaster Recovery Centers where an SBA representative will walk you through completing the application. The application has also been streamlined to a three-page document, making it faster to complete.

One other item of interest: the SBA disaster loans are available to small businesses, which includes not-for-profit organizations, so if your NFP clients have suffered damage they too can apply for assistance.

Our thoughts are with those affected by this terrible storm and we wish all a speedy recovery.

Mark Koziel, CPA, CGMA, Vice President, Firm Services & Global Alliances, American Institute of CPAs.

Photo credit: Todd Sokolove


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