Part 3: Direct Damage and Other Costs

KYW Regional Affairs Council

“Stormproofing the
Delaware Valley”


By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A major storm like a hurricane could cause a business to close its doors for good. But even those that are able to recover may suffer damage, physical or otherwise.

“And we just watch the water slowly rise around us, and it’s not a good feeling,” says Michael Dornblum, who runs Dwelling, a furniture and home furnishings store along Main Street in Manayunk.

He says that when the Schuylkill River behind his business reaches flood stage, he simply hopes for the best.

“Pretty much two or three days before and two or three days after, it ruins your business,” he notes.

(Michael Dornblum in his "Dwelling" store, on Main Street in Manayunk.  Credit: John McDevitt)

(Michael Dornblum in his “Dwelling” store, on Main Street in Manayunk. Credit: John McDevitt)


Dornblum says about nine years ago, the floor of the store was raised seven inches to help keep the water from entering the building.

“(We) thought it best to pour a concrete floor and raise the whole space up, and also built a concrete pad out back,” Dornblum tells KYW Newsradio.   “It has helped us to not get flooded.”

If a region is declared a disaster area after a storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can assist business owners with grants, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) has low-interest, 30-year loans to offer applicants.

But what if a business founders after a weather disaster because its customer base is affected — due to home damage or evacuations or other factors?  There’s help for that, too.

Jennifer Pilcher (below), with the SBA’s Philadelphia district office, explains that a so-called “economic” injury can be as devastating to a business as a flood.

(Jennifer Pilcher, of the SBA in Philadelphia.  Credit: John McDevitt)

(Jennifer Pilcher, of the SBA in Philadelphia. Credit: John McDevitt)


“The real estate is not damaged, whatever you are selling isn’t damaged.  But your customer base is damaged.  Your customers are busy trying to recover from a disaster.  They are trying to survive.   They are not coming in and spending money at your establishment.  In that case you got an economic injury, and so you can apply for a SBA disaster loan in that case to help you through recovery of that economic injury,” Pilcher tells KYW Newsradio.

And she says the SBA is ready to help in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.  Not only is the assistance for business owners, she says, but for homeowners and renters too.  More information at

Listen to Part 3…


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