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Intersection: Hurricane Irma’s Impact On Local Small Businesses


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Karen Knapik & Peter Sessum. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Hurricane Irma damaged homes across Florida, triggering thousands of claims and billions of dollars in damages. The hurricane also dealt a blow to businesses with wind and flood damage and loss of revenue.

Karen Knapik, Public Affairs Specialist with the US Small Business Administration, Peter Sessum, a public information officer with FEMA, and Paul Brinkmann, the senior digital reporter for business with the Orlando Sentinel joined Intersection to talk more about the impact of Irma on homeowners and small business owners.

Knapik said the SBA also has loans for home owners and renters.

The SBA recommends that businesses apply for a loan just in case they need it, Knapik said.

“You don’t have to take the loan if you apply for it, we want you to apply and put us in your back pocket if you need it,” she said.

“It’s no cost to apply, it doesn’t hurt your credit or do anything to you.”

Brinkmann said the biggest impact on small businesses in Orlando was whether or not they had power, and how long they were out of power.

“Those that were out of power for three or four days the impact started to get much worse,” Brinkmann said.

Sessum said Florida already has 1.9 million FEMA registrations.

After people have registered, Sessum said most people have questions about eligibility and what long term recovery would be like.

“The primary source of funding for the long term recovery is the small business administration, even for individuals,” he said.

If you want to register for a FEMA grant or a SBA loan you can visit disasterassistance.gov or sba.gov.


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