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Moore About Business: Business Rebuilding and Recovery

Tom James
Special to WGCU
Damage from Hurricane Ian can be repaired but you must apply for FEMA before you can apply for a SBA Business Disaster Loan.

Like many of you, I’m a resident and business owner here in Southwest Florida. And, like many of you, I’ve been spending the last month getting things back on track, particularly my roof.

I called my homeowners insurance company right away, had the insurance adjuster out, sent in the photos, got my bids from three local roofers. Do not use out-of-town companies if you can support a local company and support our local economy.

What do you do about out-of-town roofers if they show up at your door? Do not accept at face value that they are who they say they are, that they are here to help you. Research them on the internet before signing an agreement or handing over money.

My roof is now tarped. It will be a LONG wait for the new roof!

I turned my application in for FEMAand the Small Business Administration. I didn’t think I’d qualify for FEMA (and I didn’t), but you must apply for FEMA before you can apply for a SBA Business Disaster Loan, which I did—just to ensure I can continue to pay my team and vendors as we settle in for a long uncertain recovery. We gotta keep paying our bills if at all possible to keep our local economy going.

Setting up an internet hotspot and using my car as my office the first couple weeks worked fine—I had A/C, music, internet, streaming, phone, all my devices to work from. Ah, technology at its finest. And thank goodness I have backups for the backups of my backups.

Like so many of you, I’m getting back to work, and to life, as best I can…and wait for the rest. Patience and empathy, empathy and patience.

That’s four weeks FOR ME to get everything at home and in business going full speed again. And I barely got touched by the hurricane.

I’ve called friends on Sanibel, North Fort Myers, South Fort Myers, Cape Coral—heard their survival stories. Some were underwater and it will take months, in some cases, years, to recover. Some of our beloved iconic beachfront landmark restaurants and hangouts are gone forever. Even if rebuilt—it will be—different. Our region, our home, is irrevocably changed.

But the people of Southwest Florida are a strong breed. We will rebuild, re-invent, re-create.

As Marty Harrity, a Fort Myers Beach restaurateur, told Governor DeSantis when he came here to lead a Southwest Florida business leaders roundtable a few weeks ago, “Keep it going. We’re coming back. It’s just going to take time.”

Publisher of SWFL Business Today