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Businesses Seek Post-Sandy Assistance

Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford hosted an informational meeting in Island Park on Thursday.

Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) hosted the business meeting, and said that federal funding is essential in assisting struggling small businesses throughout the 4th Legislative District, including Long Beach.
Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) hosted the business meeting, and said that federal funding is essential in assisting struggling small businesses throughout the 4th Legislative District, including Long Beach.
Story and Photos by Chris Engelhardt.

The message that was given at Thursday’s informational meeting for business establishments in the 4th Legislative District impacted by Hurricane Sandy was made clear: federal funding is crucial for the survival of storm-ravaged small businesses across the district.

More than 60 people from across the district — which includes Long Beach, Lido Beach, Atlantic Beach, Point Lookout and parts of Oceanside and Island Park —   turned out for the public meeting, held at Lincoln Orens Middle School in Island Park and hosted by Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach).

“We need to have some sort of money to help carry us along, especially our small businesses,” Ford said. “We have to have more patience, which is very hard to find these days, but we are not going to stop . . . advocating. We need to keep our businesses here. They’re important to us.”

Ford’s message was backed by local and county officials, including Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) and Mark Tannenbaum, executive vice president of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of the meeting, Ford explained, was to obtain feedback from the community, which could be relayed to federal officials in a push for funding to aid struggling businesses and to help stabilize local economies.

To that end, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Small Business Administration (SBA) representatives were also on hand to gauge and address the concerns of small business owners who are still reeling from a storm. All the officials fielded business owners’ questions, which covered areas from flood insurance, to property damage, to business loans. Both FEMA and SBA representatives said they are providing loans to business owners.

“Does it matter what you can use your loan money for?” asked one resident, who further inquired about how money could potentially be utilized for businesses.

According to SBA officials, SBA disaster loans, which are a part of the FEMA grant process, aid businesses, homeowners and renters with rebuilding or repair costs not covered by private insurance. Businesses, as well as nonprofit organizations, are able to apply for loans of up to $2 million with interest rates as low as 4 percent to help cover economic injury and physical damage caused by a disaster, representatives said.

Asked after the meeting about storefront businesses and restaurants in Long Beach and their status, Tannenbaum said there are approximately 600 to 700 businesses across the barrier island and that since the hurricane “15 to 20 percent” of them have reopened. He said the chamber is in the process of estimating the exact number of businesses that have closed.

“I think a lot of West End bars and restaurants will reopen closer to the summer,” he told Patch. “Most of the people there are out of their homes, so local businesses can’t open because they have no one to come in. And the few that are open are complaining, ‘We’re not getting anyone in’. You’re not getting anyone in because they’re no residents.”

Though some Long Beach businesses have reopened, however, Tannenbaum said not all establishments are expected to return, in part because most are getting turned down on loans.  

“The reason they’re getting turned down is the inability to pay back,” he said. “The reason there’s the inability to pay back is because their business is out of business. It’s a double whammy. There’s a lot of businesses that won’t come back.”

During Thursday’s meeting, Weisenberg, who said he has continued to advocate for federal assistance for both Long Beach and Island Park, spoke about visiting the shattered homes of numerous families across Long Beach. He stressed that residents need to demand federal funding for their businesses as well as for their destroyed or damaged homes. Those residents who are displaced as well as those without heat, he said, are in need of immediate assistance, especially during the frigid winter season.

“I go to the houses of families, and you walk in and see the devastation,” he said. “People are suffering, and we need to work together … for better quality of life.”  

Tannenbaum said afterward that he has complete confidence that Long Beach, with federal assistance, can make a comeback. But without federal funding, he said, the barrier island “will be history.”

“It’s the survival of the community. People are in debt up to their heads,” he said. “If we don’t get federal funds, it’ll become a ghost town.
toolittle January 04, 2013 at 02:02 PM
If "The purpose of the meeting, Ford explained, was to obtain feedback from the community" maybe they should have had it later in the evening so the 9-fivers could make the meeting to give feedback.
mildred petrassi January 07, 2013 at 03:25 PM
such a shame if our small business owners do not reopen. does anyone know if associated food store will reopen? i sure do miss them.
Just wondering January 31, 2013 at 07:15 AM
there is now a key food awning where associated use to be but no idea when its opening...I had a storefront on east parrk ave but found it impossible to stay and afford the overhead with no financial assistance. I finished the reconstruction of my 1st fl an now tackling my 2nd fl damage. the amount of $$$$ it costs while you rebuild a home is monumental so combine that with a business. if you cut yourself with a knife and just leave it, 2 thing could happen 1. it could turn out ok and hope heal on its own or 2. you clean the cut, cover it and help the process of healing along. Long Beach businesses need option 2 to survive and that option consists of financial support completely....Speech from officials are fine but true actions need to take place because time is running out...."What a Shame" and " The Devastation is Heartbreaking" means nothing if you still have to close your doors...

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