A fire management assistance declaration from FEMA was granted for the Warren Grove Fire, triggering a way for federal funding to reimburse state and locals for firefighting efforts. Warren Grove, NJ, May 2007 -Andrea Booher/FEMA

If your small business or farm has been hurt by a disaster, you are not alone.

Damage from such recent events as Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee or the Texas wildfires are visible in all sectors of affected communities, from the destruction of local produce, to the elimination of tourist traffic and harm to an area’s reputation as a pleasant location.

These were not the only declared disaster of 2011 – and they may not be the last. (See FEMA’s website to check or search all Major Disaster Declarations).

Whatever the incident, here some things you should remember when rebuilding your small business:

  1. Contact your insurer as soon as possible to begin filing your claim. Expedite the process by gathering all necessary documents in advance, including: a detailed inventory, receipts, photographs of damages, and estimates on repairs.
  2. Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Your insurance agency will likely reimburse you for reasonable expenses in this area.
  3. Keep detailed records of business activity from before and after the incident, including any additional costs from running your business from a temporary location.
  4. Utilize government financial assistance. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest loans for both physical disaster and economic injury. Find out how to get help for your specific situation with your local SBA Disaster Center Office.

Without the jobs and services that small businesses provide, you and your community risk an even more challenging obstacle: long-term damage to the local economy and way of life.

Check out these websites for more rebuilding resources:

  • Insurance Information Institute (III): Along with information on different types of insurance and how they work, III has insurance advice, tools, and helpful brochures.
  • Disasterassistance.gov: The U.S. government’s website provides access to the application for aid. They also feature a questionnaire that tells you what kinds of disaster relief you may be eligible for.
  • IRS.gov: A direct link to the government’s disaster assistance and emergency relief page for individuals and businesses.