Help still available for businesses recovering from tornado outbreak

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Across the Dayton area, many small businesses are still struggling with rebuilding their businesses in the aftermath of the Memorial Day tornadoes. 

Businesses may have been affected in numerous ways beyond property damage. Firms have been forced to close, relocate, suspend business, and make other sacrifices while dealing with the tornado recovery. Some of those businesses owners remain unclear about what aid they qualify for or how to apply for it.

The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and other Dayton officials are still trying to get the word out to every business owner in the area who may have been affected. Many are eligible for a variety of types of assistance that they may not realize they are qualified to receive.

Dana Stillabower is the owner and operator of Gilbert’s Party Barn in Xenia. The party rental space has been forced to close due to the extensive amounts of damage that buildings on the property endured. 

Stillabower said that although her insurance has covered the rebuilding of the property and fixing structural issues, other issues such as tree removal and loss of business have not been covered. 

She also stressed that the process of dealing with insurance takes time, even if they have agreed to cover the property damages. 

“The process is actually slow,” said Stillabower. “The process itself is really time-consuming with a business. You have a lot of paperwork to turn in, prove your losses, prove the parties you were supposed to have. You’re not just dealing with one person at the insurance, you’re dealing with five or six. It’s pretty technical.” 

Gilbert’s Party Barn is expected to remain closed until at least September. 

Even with assistance from insurance, businesses like Gilbert’s Party Barn are encouraged to reach out to the local Business Recovery Centers that have been set up around the Dayton area. 

“We encourage them to report that and fill out the necessary paperwork in case there [are] resources for them to trigger,” said Phil Parker, the President and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. 

“There are other opportunities,” said Parker. “We’re trying to encourage those businesses that have been affected, no matter what level, that they report that to SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration).” 

The SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance is working with the Chamber of Commerce to reach out to the community and get their information the businesses facing a variety of post-tornado issues. 

WEB-EXTRA: Phil Parker discusses what business owners can find assistance.

Applications for filing for physical damage assistance ends on August 19th, 2019. Applications for economic damage (including payroll, loss of business, and loss of capital) are being accepted till March 18th, 2020. Applicants may be eligible for up to two million dollars worth of aid. 

“Our role here in the disaster is to provide low-interest loans for long-term recovery for business, homeowners, renters, and nonprofits,” said John Frederick, the Public Affairs Specialist for SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. 

Frederick said that programs such as FEMA are not designed to assist with business loans and that businesses who are looking for aid should seek out the Business Recovery Center first. 

“Sometimes people disqualify themselves,” said Frederick. Many business owners are under the assumption that they do not qualify for aid, do not know the aid exists, or simply do not know what is required to receive it. 

“Everything is on a case-by-case basis,” said Frederick. “If you have twenty minutes of your time, we ask that you bring yourself and we’re going to ask you basic questions. Where do you bank? If you have insurance, do you know your policy number? Things like that will get you started.”

SBA and Dayton city officials said that the recovery centers are designed to find out what a business owner qualifies for much quicker than an insurance company can. They also stressed that business owners will never know what assistance they qualify for unless they take the time to apply. 

Applications can be done in-person at the Business Recovery Center on North Dixie Road.

READ MORE: Key facts to know about disaster assistance in Ohio

Online applications are available. Businesses can also fill out an application by phone by calling 1-800-659-2955.

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