In Harvey Aftermath with Irma Incoming, Small Businesses Must Focus on Survival

Small Business Survival After a Disaster

Businesses along the Gulf Coast are still in the midst of recovery efforts after Harvey. But another storm is already poised to have a similar impact on residents and businesses in Florida. For the businesses that have been impacted by Harvey or are potentially facing effects from Irma, the first priority as the storm passes becomes survival.

But bringing your business through a disaster like Harvey or Irma isn’t easy. In fact, FEMA has estimated that 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster.

Small Business Survival After a Disaster

And there are a lot of potential struggles that those businesses face. The Associated Press reported a number of stories from businesses that have struggled to recover for various reasons after past disasters.

For example, Bill Rau’s antique store in New Orleans’ French Quarter didn’t even see much damage during Hurricane Katrina. But the business struggled after suffering $5 million in damages to its inventory because of a warehouse flood. And even without that issue, the store’s sales suffered because tourism was down in the area due to people assuming that flooding and storm damage were still major issues.

Similarly, a Golden Corral franchise in Kenner, Louisiana also struggled to find customers to serve after Katrina. The business was able to dedicate enough resources to get its location up and running again fairly quickly. But the city of Kenner was largely abandoned after the storm. So the restaurant only really had construction workers and insurance adjusters to serve. And many of its employees hadn’t returned to town either.

A family owned crab meat business in North Carolina was similarly devastated by Irene in 2011. Owner Mickey Daniels was able to rebuild the damaged building with some help. But he almost decided to close out of worry that a similar storm would destroy all that hard work in the future.

It’s clear that keeping a business open after a disaster is no small task. Focus on some basic steps, like mapping out a communication strategy with team members and investing in the proper insurance. In the days leading up to a disaster and the weeks and months following, small business owners must focus simply on survival — setting the stage for full recovery.