Guest opinion: SBA helps Utah communities recover swiftly from disasters
Utah is no stranger to disasters, both natural and man-made. The state has a long history of natural disasters including flooding, wildfires, tornadoes and drought. The Mammoth and Pack Creek fires in 2021 are examples of this problem. It is more important now for residents and small businesses to remember that the best course of action to limit damage from natural disasters is preparing before the disaster hits.
The 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 impacted by natural disasters around the nation, have the support and recovery relief that they need and the tools to build resilience.
Natural disasters are not just more devastating; they are also coming faster, more frequently and are 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 in the space expect that number to continue to climb. As the anchors of our communities, small businesses rely on resilient neighborhoods for their customers and their employees, and the SBA’s disaster relief loan programs help communities recover swiftly.
- SBA’s disaster loan program is the only federal assistance program that provides private property owners an affordable way to mitigate disaster impacts 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 area and more. These loans have fixed-interest rates amortized over 30 years for low monthly payments and offer an affordable way for property owners to fully repair/replace their disaster losses not covered by other resources.
- Borrowers using SBA’s physical disaster loan programs are also eligible for up to 20% 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 a substantial loss.
- 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 Utah, we have multiple resource partners statewide including 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 discuss how you will contact family, friends, employees and first responders following a disaster. You should also review your insurance coverage to make sure it is 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’s disaster programs, please visit www.sba.gov/disaster, and remember to follow us on Twitter @SBArockymtn.
Aikta Marcoulier is the SBA’s regional administrator based in Denver. She oversees the agency’s programs and services in Colorado, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.