Sometimes disasters strike without warning, such as earthquakes.  Other times, we have a few days to prepare, such as an approaching hurricane.  In the case of any natural or man-made disaster, small business owners should have a plan ready to go to ensure a smooth recovery from any business disruption.

The Pennsylvania SBDCs have experience helping small businesses secure federal or state disaster loans and provide post-disaster counseling to assist business owners in their recovery efforts.  Below are some key steps that every business owner should take following a business disruption.

Four Things To Do After A Disaster

1. Contact your insurance carrier to file your claim. If you are leasing business space, ensure that your lease owner has contacted their insurance carrier. Take pictures of damage.

2. Once a federal disaster declaration has been made for your area (this can take several days post-disaster), contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency by phone or online at www.fema.gov to report any loss. FEMA will take your information, provide you a registration number and mail applicable loan applications to you. For business loss, FEMA will refer you to the U.S. Small Business Administration. FEMA Phone Registration 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 (speech & hearing impaired).

3. Contact the U.S. Small Business Administration to pursue low interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, non-profit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery & equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster. Additional details on the locations of Disaster Recovery Centers and the loan application process can be obtained by visiting the SBA website, calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an e-mail to .

To obtain Disaster Loan Program information or to receive a status update on your loan request, call their customer service line at 1-800-659-2955 or email at . You can also visit a FEMA/SBA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in your area.

4. Contact your local SBDC for assistance with:

  • Creating, updating and refining business disruption and continuity plans
  • Acquiring capital, before and after the event
  • Using cloud-based alternatives for critical business operations tools and infrastructure
  • Developing mobile-ready strategies to prepare for employees working off-site when needed
  • Expanding strategically through new markets online, abroad or with the government
  • Finding ways to maintain connectivity during a business disruption
  • Building an online presence including eCommerce to diversify sales streams
  • Reviewing ways to optimize online performance through SEO and other website enhancements
  • Discussing all available resources to your business including local, state and federal partners who provide disaster loans, disaster training and much more  

For additional help, visit DisasterAssistance.gov. The website helps you:

  • Find disaster assistance that meets your personal needs.
  • Apply for disaster assistance.
  • Reduce the number of forms you have to fill out.
  • Check the status of your application.