Many people say that it is difficult to predict the future when you aren't certain of the immediate answers to questions like: When will the power be restored? What is the time frame before I can get new supplies? What time can my business be reconstructed?
Pike Howard, Felipe's Mexican Taqueria restaurant in New Orleans, said that there is no worse situation for business owners than complete uncertainty about how to plan. Numerous businesses have dealt with uncertainty for a while due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Howard stated that the amount of money we have been testing over the past 18-24 months is hard to imagine. "I don't know what I would do if you didn't have cash to cover this situation."
Some assistance is available. On Monday, President Joe Biden approved major disaster declarations for six New Jersey counties and five New York counties. This follows similar announcements made for Mississippi and Louisiana which were the first targets of the hurricane.
Disaster declarations are key for small businesses because that opens the door for federal disaster assistance loans.
Crews in Louisiana had restored power to almost 90% of New Orleans, and all of Baton Rouge by Wednesday evening. But hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in Louisiana, most of them outside New Orleans, still don't have power. As of Wednesday, about half the gas stations in major cities were out of fuel.
Storm damage reconstruction will be difficult. Already, contractors faced shortages of workers and supply problems. Ida made those challenges even worse and will lead to higher prices and longer building delays.
Michael Gulotta, a New Orleans restaurant owner, stated that they have little to do in the face of the severe power outages caused by Ida.
He said, "We were preparing to the storm, down there, they get them so frequently, you try and pack coolers with Ice and hope the Power is out for 20 Minutes." "Once it's, there's nothing you can do.
To help those in need, he organized food giveaways at Mopho and Maypop. He plans to open Mopho on Thursday. Maypop will be closed for a few more weeks. He stated that it is harder to obtain loans and insurance when there is business interruption than physical damage.
He said, "The hardest part is that I just took a large loss and no one's getting me money." "At this point, I'm out thousands to thousands of dollars and I have no way to fix it."
Some people who don't have insurance started fundraising. In the Northeast, a tornado spawned in Ida's wake left Wellacrest Farms, a New Jersey dairy farm owned by Marianne and Wally Eachus, nearly demolished. As of Wednesday, they had counted 14 dead cows and 100 others were still missing. Hillary Stecher, a fellow farmer, started a GoFundMe to raise nearly $90,000. The goal is to raise $1 million. Marianne Eachus said that although the farm has insurance Marianne Eachus doesn't know if it will pay for what has been lost.
Howard, who owns Felipe's Mexican restaurants, New Orleans said that his lights had been restored and that he reopened the restaurants around noon Wednesday. However, supply disruptions continue. Performance Food Group, his largest supplier, is currently in Houma. He told him that it would take at least three weeks for them to deliver key limes, chicken and other items.
He said, "I am concerned about my ability to capitalize when the power is back on because supply chain issues are still scattered about and team members still scattered around." He believes that he could lose up to $250,000. This is if he has food spoilage, and at most two weeks of lost operations.
Nicole Dorignac, coowner of Dorignac’s Food Center, stated that the 70-year-old grocery store suffered minor roof and fencing damage. Her biggest problem was making sure that her 175 employees were safe.
She said that many people had evacuated. Many are returning home to find extensive damage to their homes. There is a lot of roof damage and water damage.
Since Wednesday's reopening, 55 employees have returned to work for a limited time. Many workers are still dealing in storm damage and power outages. They're stuck waiting for insurance adjustors to come back or tarps to cover their roofs. The store will be closed for a limited time until more employees return.
She said, "We had disaster crew skeleton team." "We have some nearby that can literally bring you hell or high water."
Krista Pouncy Dyson, the owner of Performance 1st Digital Media Marketing, stated that her five employees were already working remotely before the storm hit so they had a good understanding of how to communicate. Multiple crises can be very stressful.
She said, "There is an emotional component to all this. We are in the middle coronavirus pandemic. And we have to navigate that on the top of a category 4 hurricane." It's extremely difficult.
Dyson is also chairwoman of the New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce. She stated that she had surveyed minority-owned businesses and found that there was a clear need for micro loans to help with working capital, fuel access, and other basic necessities.
People, or potential customers may leave the region. She said that many people didn't return to the area after Katrina. The city saw its population shrink from half a billion to less than half that. It now stands at 390,000.
She asked, "What's the future look like in a month? Are people going to cancel contracts because people have relocated?" These are the concerns that business owners are trying to address.