By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG
NEW YORK — After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, an antique store needed over six years to fully recover. A Long Island restaurateur couldn’t reopen one of his locations for a year and a half after Superstorm Sandy struck in 2012.
For small businesses, recovery from hurricanes and other natural disasters can take years — if they recover at all. Business owners in Houston have just started assessing their damage and how to move forward. Many may find themselves facing the same hurdles and delays as small-business owners who have been through other big storms.
After Katrina, the city of Kenner, Louisiana, west of New Orleans, resembled a ghost town. The Golden Corral restaurant there suffered extensive damage. Managers hired a crew for repairs, and within 10 weeks the restaurant reopened. But there were few residents around, and only nine of 70 staffers were in town to run the place, says Malcolm Clark, the franchise’s director
At first, the Golden Corral could serve only lunch. The customers were construction workers and insurance adjusters. Sometimes it was difficult to get deliveries of food and supplies. It took a year after Katrina for the Golden Corral to be back to normal.
Bill Rau’s antique store in New Orleans’ French Quarter escaped heavy damage from Katrina, and was closed for just six weeks. But the store had $5 million in damage to its inventory when its warehouse flooded, and it took a year and a half for the insurance company to reimburse Rau.
Many small businesses are less fortunate — the government estimates that nearly 40 percent of small companies never reopen following a weather-related disaster. Many don’t have adequate insurance and/or cash reserves to repair the damage and pay bills while they can’t operate. And even without physical damage, a business can have financial losses — a restaurant can lose tens of thousands of dollars in spoiled food if the power goes out.