Making the best of the worst: SBA offers disaster recovery assistance

Aikta Marcoulier

Colorado is no stranger to disasters, both natural and man-made. The state has a long history of natural disasters, including floods, wildfires, tornadoes and drought. The recent Marshall Fire in Boulder County offers an example of this problem. 

It’s more important now for residents and small business owners to remember the best course of action to limit damage from natural disasters is to prepare before the disaster strikes.

 The Joe Biden administration and U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman have been at the forefront of ensuring small businesses and nonprofits as well as individual homeowners and renters affected by natural disasters around the nation have the support and recovery relief they need and the tools to build resilience.

 Natural disasters are not just more devastating. They’re also coming faster, more frequently and often rapidly changing in their complexity and scope. In 2020, the United States suffered 22 separate billion-dollar disasters — the most in our history. But experts expect that number to continue to climb. 

As the anchors of our communities, small businesses rely on resilient neighborhoods for their customers and employees. SBA disaster relief loan programs help communities recover swiftly.

 The SBA disaster loan program is the only federal assistance program that provides private property owners an affordable way to mitigate the effects of disasters and protect their homes, families, businesses, employees and livelihoods against the next disaster.

 SBA disaster loan funds can be used to cover insurance deductibles, refinance an existing mortgage, pay for mitigation and protective upgrades, relocate to a safer and lower risk areas and more. These loans offer fixed interest rates amortized over 30 years for low monthly payments as well as an affordable way for property owners to fully repair or replace disaster losses not covered by other resources.

 Borrowers using SBA physical disaster loan programs are also eligible for up to 20 percent of their total physical losses, as verified by SBA, to incorporate additional protective measures to mitigate future damage and losses against the next disaster.

SBA offers non-pandemic related economic injury disaster loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private nonprofit organizations located in a declared disaster area rebuild after suffering substantial losses.

The SBA has several local resource partners to assist business owners develop a disaster continuity plan — whether your business is in the relief, recovery or continuity phase. In Colorado, multiple resource partners located statewide include Small Business Development Centers, SCORE, a Veteran Business Outreach Center and a Women’s Business Center to assist you with your disaster planning.

 The best way to mitigate the effects of a disaster is to create a disaster continuity plan. This plan should cover how you will contact family, friends, employees and first responders following a disaster. You also should review your insurance coverage to make sure it’s current and covers all necessary costs. Most importantly, practice and evaluate your plan with family members, managers and staff to make sure it works.

For more information on SBA disaster programs, visit www.sba.gov/disaster, and remember to follow us on Twitter @SBArockymtn.