When disaster strikes, SBA can help

August 15, 2023

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 each year. In August, warm ocean temperatures throughout the region are the norm, which can trigger and intensify tropical storms and hurricanes. Based on Delaware Emergency Management Agency reporting, we know that Delaware can be especially vulnerable to coastal storms because of location and because, at 60 feet above sea level, Delaware sits at the lowest average elevation of any state.

In short, the best advice for Delawareans during hurricane season is, “Be prepared.”

That advice applies to everyone, including small business owners. Working with the U.S. Small Business Administration to support Delaware’s entrepreneurs, I know that so much of the First State’s finest small business success comes from meticulous preparation. Business owners pour everything they have into working and reworking the business plans that become their roadmap to success. Despite all of that careful groundwork – researching the market, weighing funding options and more – business owners often overlook developing a disaster plan for their business. But making a disaster plan for your business now can help your business stay open or reopen quickly when disaster strikes. That’s why the SBA supports planning with a variety of resources, including details on how to build a preparedness kit, checklists, safety tips, online courses, videos, webinars, etc. (

And, Delawareans can rest assured that, when disasters like hurricanes and tropical storms do strike, the SBA can help. Once disaster strikes, the SBA has staff on the ground working, often as part of FEMA’s Incident Command System. After a declared disaster, you can expect the SBA and FEMA to conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment and Survey, coordinate and collaborate on responses and assistance center locations, and establish a Joint Field Operations Center for coordination.

Through FEMA Disaster Response Centers and the SBA’s Disaster Loan Offices, financial help is available to impacted non-farm businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters through low-interest, long-term loans for losses not covered by insurance or other means (including FEMA assistance). The SBA’s disaster program is the agency’s only direct loan program. Under it, we offer two types of loans – physical and economic injury – to help those affected reestablish with access to low-interest and fixed-rate capital during a difficult time. To qualify for SBA disaster loans, there must be physical damage to property in a declared disaster area. Those who are in need must first apply to FEMA and their insurance company to see what assistance they qualify for, and then apply with SBA.

Delawareans are well aware that hurricane season has battered the First State in recent years. This month, we close in on the second anniversary of the remnants of Hurricane Ida, including flood damage in New Castle County. Damage from that storm – northern New Castle County’s Brandywine Creek broke its previous flood record by nearly 3 feet and hundreds of buildings sustained flood damage – resulted in President Biden declaring a major disaster in New Castle County. And, just one year prior, Tropical Storm Isaias caused damage in Pennsylvania and Delaware, touching off three tornadoes in Delaware and resulting in an SBA disaster declaration for affected areas that qualified. In the wake of both storms, SBA helped with recovery, offering low-interest loans to qualifying businesses, nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters affected by the storms. This hurricane season, and year-round, the SBA stands at the ready to support recovery when disaster strikes.

Now, and in the future, if you are in need of SBA disaster assistance, go to and follow the link at the top of the page, go to a Disaster Recovery Center near you, call us at 1-800-659-2955 or email us at for more information.

Michelle Harris is the Delaware district director of the Small Business Administration. 


  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

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