Individuals who own and operate businesses affected by floods must take precautions and steps to help mitigate damage to property and business operations. Preventing permanent closure of a business is critical to your personal financial interests and to the many employees and community members who rely on your business for jobs and community well-being. Below is a list of resources that can assist you as you prepare your business for rising waters and subsequent recovery.
During all stages of preparation and recovery, it is recommended that you work with local and state officials and utility companies to ensure safety of your employees and premises. Consult your insurance agent, attorney and banker to keep them apprised of any contingency plans for your business operations.
Flood Insurance. The Nebraska Department of Insurance has a webpage dedicated to answering questions about flood insurance. If you are considering flood insurance, please note that flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period before the policy becomes effective. Contact the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-888-379-9531 to locate an approved insurance agent or use their searchable agent listing at (www.floodsmart.gov).
Whether you have flood insurance or not, take steps to record your property loss:
- Locate your insurance policies and contact your agent for insurance protocols.
- Secure records that document inventory, equipment, furniture and fixtures. Include model numbers, serial numbers, descriptions, purchase costs.
- Take photos or video of the interior/exterior of your business property, including any outlying storage facilities, equipment.
- If possible, move electronic equipment to a location for easy access during flooding and recovery stages. Back up electronic data and store off-location. Download the Security Squad Workbook for tips on documenting electronic equipment and software and securing vital business data.
Continuity Plan. If you have already in place a business continuity plan, now is the time to put it into action and marshal the resources to secure business operations. If you do not have a continuity plan in place, visit FEMA Ready Business for tips on business disaster planning.
Electrical Safety. Electricity and water do not mix! The Nebraska Public Power District has published guidelines on how to best ensure your safety prior, during and after flood stages.
You will also want to check with other Utility providers to temporarily turn off your services at the flooded location until you are re-established or redirect services to a temporary location (if applicable). This will save utility costs during business closedown at your facility. When your business is ready to re-open, call these utility companies to return service.
Communication with Employees, Customers and Suppliers. These individuals are vital to the survival of your business.
- Create a contact list for existing critical business contractors and others you plan to use in an emergency. Keep this list with other important documents on file, in your emergency supply kit and at an off-site location.
- Contact your employees to set up temporary office procedures.
- Communicate to customers your status of operations, how they can reach you and your temporary location (if applicable).
- Contact vendors, post office and other delivery services to let them know of your location or to stop delivery services temporarily.
Start Insurance Claim. When you have incurred a lost, go ahead and contact your insurance agent to start your flood insurance claim. Have available your policy number and a phone number and/or email address where you can be reached. All flood insurance policies require you to give prompt written notice of loss to your agent or insurance company.
Re-enter Property: Use caution when re-entering buildings. Contact local and/or state officials for assessment of structural damage and safety for you and your employees. If you lease space, contact the building owner and ask if they will conduct an inspection. In some cases, you will not be allowed to enter the building until fire and police have established the area as safe and a mandatory evacuation order has been lifted.
- Floods: First Entry of a Flooded Home (applicable to businesses also).
- FirstSteps to Flood Recovery - Re-entering Buildings
Assess flood-related Damage. Once it is safe to enter your building or office space, begin assessing damage to determine what is salvageable and how long recovery efforts might take. Licensed electrician and plumber are needed to assess and repair damage to the electrical and utility systems. City/County inspections may be enforced prior to restoring utility services.
- FEMA After a Flood: The First Steps
- FEMA Scam Artists in Wake of Flooding, (PDF file, 55KB) June 15, 2008 article adapted to Nebraska.
Document and Record Recovery. If print or digital records are vital to your company operations, it is important to begin the recovery of these documents as soon as possible. The Tennessee Bar Association has provided a great outline of how to go about the records recovery process, including tips on prioritizing damaged documents, destroying beyond-repair records and the documentation of this, storage of damaged documents to help slow down the disintegration and more. Records Recovery Document (PDF file, 24KB)
Clean Facility. Again, ensure the safety of the building before entering. Begin the cleanup of your office space/facility, taking all health and safety precautions. Click on the left navigation links for some tips on re-entering a flooded space, flood water safety, protecting against mold, etc.
After the Flood - Recovery Stage - Financial
Process Insurance Claim. Although you have been in contact with your Agent during shutdown or relocation, you will want to start reviewing your loss with your Agent, once you are cleared to return to your business property by local officials.
Additional post-flood steps to record your property loss:
- Make a thorough inventory of all missing or damaged items.
- Take pictures inside and out for documentation before repairs are made.
- Keep receipts for any expenses required to protect your property from further damage.
- Secure and protect your property against further rain or other damage without making permanent repairs, so an adjustor can see the full extent of damage.
- Follow the claims-filing procedure set forth in your policy. If there is a dispute, follow the company's dispute process.
- Settlement offers from insurers can be negotiated. You don't have to take the first offer.
- If you have issues with an insurance company, call your state Department of Insurance or visit their website.
- NFIP - Filing Your Flood Insurance Claim
- NFIP Flood Insurance Claims Handbook
Contact Attorney and/or Accountant.
There are various possibilities in regards to your taxes and unemployment insurance that you may want to discuss with your attorney and/or accountant. You may be eligible for tax deductions on certain losses, with the possibility of claiming a federal casualty-loss deduction if your business is in a federally declared disaster area. In addition, if your employees are not eligible for regular state unemployment benefits, you may qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), again provided your business is located in a federally declared disaster area.
Provided by the UN Extension Entrepreneurship Team. For more information on how UNL Extension can assist your business, contact your local Extension office or Flood Recovery Business Contact: Marilyn Schlake, Extension Educator, firstname.lastname@example.org, 402.472.4138.
Home and Business information provided by: Marilyn Schlake, Extension Educator, University of Nebraska Extension, Lincoln, NE
If you are located in a Federal disaster area and are interested in obtaining government assistance for your business, you must first register for assistance through FEMA at www.fema.gov/assistance or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to obtain an application number. You may be eligible for a federally subsidized SBA loan to help pay for business damages not covered by insurance. Apply at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Default.aspx or 1-800-659-2955 or contact Nebraska SBA Offices and the Nebraska Business Development Center nearest you.
U.S. Small Business Administration - Disaster News - Economic Injury Loans for Small Businesses
SBA Disaster Loans PowerPoint presentation by Loren Kucera, NBDC - Wayne State College
- Nebraska Department of Economic Development
- City/County Economic Develop Offices
- District Economic Development Offices
- Nebraska Public Power District