Our communities across Florida continue working to recover from Hurricane Irma. Meanwhile, our thoughts are also focused on Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico and all the other places being affected by natural disasters. This is a time to rebuild, support each other, and become stronger neighbors and community. Below is important information that can aid in your ongoing business recovery:
Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program: The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has launched the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support businesses impacted by Hurricane Irma to provide short-term, interest-free loans (ranging from $1,000 to $25,000) to small businesses that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm. To complete an application by the Oct. 31, 2017, deadline, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org and contact your nearest SBDC.
- These short-term, interest-free working capital loans are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured longer term recovery resources, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims, or Federal disaster assistance.
- Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $25,000. The loan term is 90 or 180 days based on individual business circumstances. Loans will be interest-free for the loan term but must be repaid in full by the end of the loan term or penalties apply.
- The Florida SBDC Network is the point-of-contact for any for-profit business that needs an Emergency Bridge Loan. To locate your nearest SBDC, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network (FSBDCN) at 850-898-3489 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.
State of Florida Business Damage Assessment: The State of Florida has initiated a survey which will help determine the physical and economic impact to businesses from Hurricane Irma. If your business has been impacted by Irma, we encourage you to fill out the survey. This will assist State/Local authorities in determining the scope of impact and what type, if any, of additional financial assistance to provide to businesses. The survey is available in English, Spanish, and Creole.
- The English version is available online here: http://www.flvbeoc.org/index.php?action=bda
- Si prefiere completar la encuesta en español, está disponible aquí: http://www.flvbeoc.org/index.php?action=bda&lang=sp
SBA Disaster Assistance: Businesses located in the impacted areas are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for damages from Hurricane Irma.
- Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.
- Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed personal property.
- Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes.
- Loans are also available for businesses that did not receive physical damage but were economically impacted due to the disaster.
- Interest rates are as low as 3.305 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, 1.75 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.
- More information is available at: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance
- Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
- It is recommended you apply with FEMA (www.disasterassistance.gov) before submitting a loan application to the SBA.
SBA Disaster: Business Recovery Centers – UPDATED 9/29
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) currently has nine Recovery Centers along with four mobile unit strategically located throughout Florida, to help businesses impacted by Hurricane Irma that began on Sept. 4, 2017.
SBA representatives at the facilities and mobile units can provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the SBA application. The Centers will operate under the hours listed below until further notice.
FEMA/SBA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC)
Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sunday – Saturday
Brevard County Agricultural Center
3695 Lake Drive
Cocoa, FL 32926
Clay County (Mobile DRC)
Clay County Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall 1
2497 State Road 16 West
Green Cove Springs, FL 32043
Closes Friday, Sep 29 at close of business
Hillsborough Community College at The Regent
6437 Watson Road
Riverview, FL 33578
Bonita Springs Recreation Center
26740 Pine Avenue
Bonita Springs, FL 34135
Miami-Dade College Kendall Campus
11011 SW 104 Street
Miami, FL 33176
Monroe County (Mobile DRC)
Big Pine Key Community Park
31009 Atlantis Drive
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
FEMA/SBA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC)
Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sunday – Saturday
Monroe County (Mobile DRC)
616 Simonton Street
Key West, FL 33050
Palm Beach County
Carol Sims Center
225 NW 12th Avenue
Boynton Beach, FL 33435
Sarasota County (Mobile DRC)
Venice Community Center
326 Nokomis Ave South
Venice, FL 34285
St. Johns County
Wind Mitigation Building
3111 Agricultural Center Drive
St. Augustine, Florida 32092
SBA Business Recovery Centers (BRC)
Hours: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Saturday
3510 Kraft Road, # 200
Naples, FL 34105
Beaver Street Enterprise Center
728 Blanche Street, Bldg. 2
Jacksonville, FL 32204
The EpiCenter-Pinellas County Economic Development Center
13805 58th Street North
Clearwater, FL 33760
The SBA offers low-interest, long-term disaster loans for physical damage and working capital. To be considered for this assistance, survivors need to apply by the deadline.
SBA’s Customer Service Center – 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing); email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (ET), Monday – Friday; 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (ET), Saturday and Sunday
You may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Loan applications can be downloaded from www.sba.gov. Completed applications should be returned to a recovery center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
More info at www.sba.gov/disaster. The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 9, 2017. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 11, 2018.
Florida SBDC Network can assist with state, federal disaster loan programs listed above, activated to aid businesses impacted by Hurricane Irma.
- State of Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
- Federal Business Physical Disaster Loan Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
- Recommended First Step: Businesses to Complete Disaster Assessment (Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center surveying tool available at http://flvbeoc.org)
FEMA Teleregistration: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (ET), Monday – Friday
FEMA hotline for free legal advice: 1-866-550-2929
Anyone dealing with the storm, but especially those who can’t afford an attorney, can contact the hotline set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency along with the young lawyers divisions of the Florida Bar and American Bar Association.
The advice will include securing FEMA benefits and other public benefits; making claims on life, medical and property insurance; dealing with home repair contractors; replacing important documents destroyed in the storm; consumer protection or avoiding fraud; and counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems or landlord/tenant issues.
Callers will hear a recording, in English or Spanish, that will give instructions for callers to leave a message about their needs. Calls will be returned within two business days between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
IRS tax relief information for disasters: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-in-disaster-situations
Top Tips for consumers currently navigating the insurance claims process:
- Notify your insurance company first. Many insurance companies have reporting deadlines, so it is important to act quickly. Take steps to make temporary repairs that prevent further damage, but remain in contact with your insurance company regarding any outside vendors that are brought in to make repairs. If you need help locating contact information for your insurance company, click here to access the Office of Insurance Regulation’s (Office) directory.
- While making temporary repairs, obtain the licensing or training credentials of all third-party vendors before signing any work agreements. Beware of fly-by-night repair companies and hire only licensed and reputable vendors. Use the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Contractor License lookup to make sure all contractors are properly licensed and bonded. Access DBPR’s licensee search here.
- If considering the assistance of a public insurance adjuster, ask for identification to verify that the adjuster is licensed. Visit Florida CFO’s Hurricane Irma Insurance Resources website to verify the license of any Florida insurance agent or adjuster.
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation CONSUMER ALERT: Know What You Are Signing for Repairs After Hurricane Irma
- Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier is encouraging Floridians who are now dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and assessing damage to their homes and businesses to be aware of what they may be signing for repair work. A homeowner who has a loss may contact a contractor, water extraction company, roofer, or a plumber to assist with emergency repairs. After assessing the damage, the homeowner may be presented with a document to sign before repair work begins, which could also contain what is known as an Assignment of Benefits (AOB). If signed by the homeowner, it may give the repair vendor the right to exclusively communicate with the insurance company, negotiate and endorse insurance claim payments and file a lawsuit against the insurance company, with or without the homeowner’s knowledge. AOBs have been a cost driver leading to rising homeowners’ insurance rates across the state due to unnecessary litigation associated with certain AOB claims.
The following are a few tips to assist homeowners:
- Read your insurance policy and know what your responsibilities are following a loss.
- Contact your insurance company prior to signing any document that may contain an AOB.
- If the homeowner elects to sign the AOB, read everything carefully and do not feel pressured to sign it.
- Beware of language that allows all proceeds of the claim to be made to anyone other than the homeowner or the homeowners mortgage company.
- Do not sign the document if there are any blank spaces.
Consumers should report suspicious activity by calling 1-877-693-5246.
US Chamber of Commerce Foundation is operating a Disaster Help Desk for businesses who would like help accessing assistance, need recovery best practices, and/or would like to offer support. The number is 1-888-MY-BIZ-HELP.
Disaster recovery private providers:
Berman Property Maintenance & Construction
Nearly 2 million Duke Energy customers have had their power restored after Hurricane Irma in 21 counties. On Sept. 20, Duke Energy Florida announced that essentially all customers’ power was restored except for scattered outages in hardest hit areas, and customers with meter damage. For the latest outage information and other company updates, visit https://news.duke-energy.com/Irma.
Para más información y actualizaciones sobre Duke Energy visite: https://www.duke-energy.com/spanish/seguridad-y-preparacion/seguridad-de-las-tormentas.
JPMorgan Chase announced three actions to help consumers and businesses in FEMA-declared areas after Hurricane Irma:
- Chase will automatically waive or refund the following fees through September 24 for its customers, as it did for Hurricane Harvey:
- Late fees for mortgage, credit card, business banking and auto loans and leases
- Overdraft, monthly service and ATM fees on deposit accounts
- Chase will automatically start a 90-day grace period to delay payment on mortgage and home equity payments. The bank will work together with customers on how to catch up on these payments. During the 90-day period, Chase won’t charge late fees or send negative information to the credit bureaus. For more information, click here: https://www.chase.com/personal/mortgage/hurricane
- To help small businesses rebuild, Chase will offer reduced interest rates on certain new loans and waive:
- The origination fee for installment loans
- The appraisal fee – up to $5,000 – for loans on owner-occupied real estate
- The SBA Express guarantee fee for loans of $150,000 to the program’s maximum of $350,000; there isn’t a fee on smaller loans
- The first-year annual fee for a business line of credit
Visit https://media.chase.com/content/pr/hurricane-irma-relief or call the special-care line at 888-346-0023 for more info.
Partners for Self-Employment Miami-Dade Assessment Survey – Complete PSE’s Business Damage Assessment survey on how Hurricane Irma may have affected your local business operations in Miami Dade County. This will help determine how PSE offers assistance to your business.
CareerSource South Florida has opened Career Centers to assist any residents needing to file for Unemployment and DUA benefits.
SFCDC informational blog on resources for Hurricane Irma recovery in South Florida: http://southfloridacdc.org/blog/hurricane-irma-relief-updates/
Businesses that suffered physical damage and need cash flow assistance while waiting for SBA assistance can also contact Pinellas County Economic Development about applying for Florida’s emergency bridge loan program. Since 9/14, businesses can contact the Pinellas County Small Business Development Center at 727-453-7200 for more information.
Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce resources for H. Irma recovery:
City of Orlando:
Storm recovery resources and services: http://www.cityoforlando.net/blog/city-of-orlando-storm-recovery-services/
Información sobre recursos y servicios de recuperación después del huracán: http://www.cityoforlando.net/blog/servicios-de-recuperacion-del-huracan-del-municipio-de-orlando/?lang=es