Storm Recovery Information

IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING STORM RECOVERY

Dear Chamber Friend,

First and foremost, I pray that you are safe and have been able to resume normal activities following the massive storm that hit our area. As you know, Hurricane Sandy left behind a path of death and destruction. Flooding and downed trees destroyed property across Brooklyn and left hundreds of thousands without power for days.

As businesses across the borough continue to survey the damage, we at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce are here to help members impacted by the storm. All across the borough, small businesses are trying to pick up the pieces.

For businesses that suffered damage, there are many programs at their disposal. In this time of need, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is here to assist its members. For that reason, the Chamber is here to help you navigate those services. For a list of those services, you can visit our website at www.ibrooklyn.com/sandy.

The Chamber has created a resource guide (see below) with all the vital information and phone numbers businesses need to contact in order to get assistance and emergency loans. If Chamber members need help filling out applications, please do not hesitate to come to our offices or call us.  

Together we can help businesses rebuild bigger and better than before and continue to make Brooklyn the wonderful place we all know it is.

As always, you can contact me directly at cscissura@brooklynchamber.com or on my cell phone at 917-622-4063.

Regards,

Carlo A. Scissura
President & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

Brooklyn Chamber's Resource Guide to Business Recovery

What do I do if my business suffered damage?

If you have insurance that will cover your damages, contact your agent at once. Take photographs of any damaged property/materials to document your losses.

Below is a list of private insurance companies:

Allstate: Allstate is prepared and ready to respond quickly to Hurricane Sandy with approximately 1,100 claim personnel ready to help. Allstate customers who suffered damage can call 1-800-54-STORM (800-457-8676), go online to http://www.allstate.com/claims/report-claim.aspx or contact their agent to file a claim or receive additional information about the claims process.

Farmers: Farmers Insurance Group, including subsidiaries Foremost Insurance, 21st Century and Bristol West, are prepared to help customers in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Customers with damage should immediately contact their agent or call Farmers' 24-hour-claims hotline, 1-800-435-7764 for immediate assistance.

Geico: Teams of GEICO claim adjusters have deployed to affected areas, and will remain there until they have resolved every hurricane-related claim. If you need to report a claim, please visit http://www.geico.com/claims/report/ or call 1-800-841-3000. Claims personnel are available 24/7.

The Hartford: The Hartford Insurance Company has set up a catastrophe information center for its customers. Please call 1-800-243-5860 or go online to http://www.thehartford.com for more information.

Travelers: Travelers has thousands of trained claim professionals countrywide, who are ready to help as soon as it is safe to enter the affected areas. Travelers insurance customers can find more information or report a claim online at https://www.travelers.com/claim/emergency.aspx or call 1-800-252-4633 for personal insurance or 1-800-238-6225 for business insurance.

What do I do about damage my business suffered that is not covered by my insurance policy?

There are several government programs available to small businesses owners. The first thing is to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, by visiting disasterassistance.gov.

The US Small Business Administration provides low interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes. For more information, visit sba.gov or call 1-800-659-2955. The US Small Business Administration has opened a Business Recovery Center in Brooklyn to provide one-on-one help to business owners seeking disaster assistance. Assistance is available at the NYC Business Solution Brooklyn Center at 9 Bond Street, 5th floor, in Brooklyn. Businesses of all sizes can apply for up to $2 million to repair/replace damaged or destroyed real estate, inventory, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, leasehold improvements and other business assets.  For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquacultural, and most private non-profit organizations of all sizes, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage. Physical property damage must be filed by April 13, 2013. The deadline for economic injury loans is July 31, 2013.  

What flood insurance programs are available?


If you are a policy holder of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you can reach out to them to assist you with claims applications. The FEMA Call Center at 1-800-621-3362 can provide answers to general questions about the NFIP and can direct callers to other NFIP areas according to their needs.

NFIP policy holders who have experienced a flood can file a flood insurance claim by following three steps:

After experiencing a flood, NFIP policy holders should contact their agent or insurance company to file a claim. An adjuster should contact the policy holder within a few days of filing your claim. If policy holders do not hear from an adjuster, they can contact their insurance agent or company again. Make sure you have the following information handy: the name of your insurance company, you policy number, and a telephone and/or email address where you can be reached at all times.  Separate damaged from undamaged property. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage to your home and possessions to prepare your repair estimate. Take photographs of all of the damaged property, including discarded objects, structural damage, and standing floodwater levels; make a list of damaged or lost items and include their date of purchase, value, and receipts, if possible. Officials may require disposal of damaged items so, if possible, place flooded items outside of the home.

Your adjuster will provide you a Proof of Loss form for your official claim for damages. You'll need to file this claim with your insurance company within 60 days of the flood. This document substantiates the insurance claim and is required before the National Flood Insurance Program or insurance company can make payment. You’ll receive your claim payment after you and the insurer agree on the amount of damages and the insurer has your complete, accurate, and signed Proof of Loss form. If major catastrophic flooding occurs, it may take longer to process claims and make payments because of the sheer number of claims submitted.

For more information, visit:

http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pdfs/NFIP_Summary_of_Coverage.pdf

http://www.floodsmart.gov/toolkits/flood/downloads/ManagingYourFloodInsuranceClaim08-2008.pdf

Is there any way to get loans through the City and State?

The NYC Department of Small Business Services and the New York City Economic Development Corporation is coordinating a set of services to assist small businesses in recovering from Sandy. You can contact the Brooklyn office of the Brooklyn Business Solutions Center, which is run in partnership with the Brooklyn Chamber, at 718-875-3400 or email mdominguez@nycbusiness-solutions.com. The office is located at 9 Bond Street, 5th Floor, in Brooklyn.

For small- to mid-sized businesses that have experienced business interruption: An emergency loan for businesses will be available, patterned after similar programs deployed in past emergencies. Loans will be capped at $25,000. Call 311 and ask for NYC Business Emergency Loan. For more information, visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/sbs/nycbiz/html/home/home.shtml.

For mid- to large-sized businesses that need to undertake rebuilding: An emergency sales tax letter from New York City Industrial Development Authority (IDA) will be available allowing businesses to avoid payment of New York City and New York State sales taxes on materials purchased for rebuilding. IDA will also waive all fees and, while following State law, look to streamline its normal procedure. This program is expected to offer economic benefits to reconstruction projects costing $500,000 or more. Please contact Shin Mitsugi at smitsugi@nycedc.com for more information.

For any business that is temporarily displaced from its space: Short-term "swing" office space at Brooklyn Army Terminal available free of charge for the next 30 days. NYCEDC has approximately 40,000 square feet of warehouse space at the Terminal that can be used for this purpose. Please call 311 and ask for NYC Business Solutions or email jgouveia@nycedc.com.

For any business in need of other emergency assistance: The SBS Business Outreach Team and Emergency Response Unit's Large Scale Response Team will be deployed after the storm to help all impacted small businesses. This team is currently on-call for any storm-related business inquiries and is closely coordinating with the NYC Office of Emergency Management. Please call 311 and ask for NYC Business Solutions.

To register with the State, contact the NYS Empire State Development at: http://esd.ny.gov/sandyAssistance.asp

The New York Bankers Association (NYBA) and the New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC) have agreed to establish a $10 million small business emergency loan fund to provide immediate financial assistance for businesses impacted by Sandy. Under the fund, businesses will be able to apply for loans of up to $25,000 immediately by going to www.esd.ny.gov or calling 1-855-NYS-SANDY.

What other services does the City and State provide?

The New York City Office of Emergency Management coordinates emergency response and recovery, and collects and disseminates emergency information. For the latest updates on utility and transportation service restoration or to find an emergency shelter location, please go to http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/home/home.shtml or call 718-422-8700.

Notify NYC is the City of New York's official source for information about emergency events and important city services such as schools, utilities, and transportation. Please go to https://a858-nycnotify.nyc.gov/notifynyc/ or call 311 to register for updates.

On the State level, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides leadership and support for efforts to respond to, and recover from, natural disasters and other emergencies. Please contact the Hurricane Sandy Helpline for New York State Residents at 1-888-769-7243 or 1-518-485-1159 or go to http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/sandy/sandy-info.cfm for more information.  

Does the City have any grant programs businesses can apply for?

The City of New York, The Mayor’s Fund and New York City Partnership Foundation are providing the NYC Matching Grant Program for businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy. NYC Business Solutions and New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC) will administer the loan program. Visit www.nyc.gov/nycbusiness for more information on NYC Matching Grant and other services.

What other grants are available?

National Grid has created a Hurricane Sandy Relief Program. The Emergency Economic and Community Development program provides funding to National Grid commercial, industrial or multi-family residential gas customers that were impacted by the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. Eligible buildings must have sustained storm damage and must have lost gas service due to the storm and flooding.

Program funds can be used for energy infrastructure repair and/or replacement, and rehabilitation of commercial, industrial, multi-family residential or mixed-use buildings, and costs associated with replacement of fixed machinery and equipment necessary for the operation of the business. Grant amounts cannot exceed $250,000. This is the maximum allowable award and each application will be evaluated on a variety of factors, resulting in many applicants not receiving the maximum award. Funding consideration will be based on documented financial need and impact to the community. Grant amounts will be determined using criteria including, but not limited to: Total project costs, square footage of facility, jobs retained, and type of business.  

All applications for this program must be received by March 31, 2014 in order to be considered for funding. To determine program eligibility and for additional information for the above program, please call National Grid at: 1-855-496-9359.  

What if I am employed by a business that suffered damage?

Federal disaster unemployment assistance is now available to all New Yorkers who lost their jobs as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Disaster unemployment benefits are available to provide financial support to anyone who has lost their job and live or work in the Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties. This assistance will supplement New York’s existing unemployment insurance system and will expand eligibility to include individuals who might otherwise not be covered. The United States Department of Labor has committed to providing additional assistance if needed. To apply for unemployment benefits or disaster unemployment assistance, those affected by the storm and have lost their job or income should call the Telephone Claims Center (TCC) at 1-888-209-8124, or 1-877-358-5306 if they live out of state. Applicants should answer the questions to indicate they lost their job due to Hurricane Sandy. In order to receive benefits you must apply by December 3, 2012.

Does the IRS provide some tax relief?

Following recent disaster declarations for individual assistance issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the IRS has said that affected taxpayers in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York will receive tax relief. The tax relief postpones various tax filing and payment deadlines that occurred starting in late October. As a result, affected individuals and businesses will have until February 1, 2013 to file these returns and pay any taxes due. This includes the fourth quarter individual estimated tax payment, normally due January 15, 2013. It also includes payroll and excise tax returns and accompanying payments for the third and fourth quarters, normally due on October 31, 2012 and January 31, 2013 respectively. It also applies to tax-exempt organizations required to file Form 990 series returns with an original or extended deadline falling during this period. The IRS will abate any interest, late-payment or late-filing penalty that would otherwise apply. The IRS automatically provides this relief to any taxpayer located in the disaster area. Taxpayers need not contact the IRS to get this relief.

Beyond the relief provided by law to taxpayers in the FEMA-designated counties, the IRS will work with any taxpayer who resides outside the disaster area but whose books, records or tax professional are located in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. All workers assisting the relief activities in the covered disaster areas who are affiliated with a recognized government or philanthropic organization are eligible for relief. Taxpayers who live outside of the impacted area and think they may qualify for this relief need to contact the IRS at 866-562-5227. In addition, the IRS is waiving failure-to-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due on or after the disaster area start date and before November 26, if the deposits are made by November 26, 2012. Details on available relief can be found on the disaster relief page on www.IRS.gov. So far, IRS filing and payment relief applies to the following localities: In New York (starting October 27, 2012): Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester.