The Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce organized an information session Thursday to help business owners understand what resources are available to them to help restore flood-damaged properties.
The session was held at the Ocean City Free Public Library and included representatives of the Chamber, the City of Ocean City, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and OCNJ C.A.R.E.
The presentation included detailed information on a wide range of issues, but representatives emphasized the need for owners to be aware of the resources available to them:
- All Ocean City business owners are asked to fill out and return a Business Assistance Request form to the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce. The form is available on ocnjcare.org. Owners are asked to specify what kind of help they might need in repairing damage — from floor to ceiling.
- Business owners are asked to register with FEMA for disaster assistance by calling 800-621-FEMA (800-621-3362) visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by smartphone at m.fema.gov. FEMA officials emphasized that their mission is first to provide shelter to primary residents most in need. But they ask that everybody register.
- A state program now allows small business owners to file for unemployment benefits. Call 856-507-2340.
- Business owners are eligible for low-interest Small Business Administration loans. Officials encourage owners to file for loans even if they ultimately choose not to accept them. Owners can apply at the Disaster Recovery Center that opened in Atlantic City on Friday.
- The city may have assistance available through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Look for updates on ocnjcare.org.
- The city is researching the possibility of tax relief for homes and businesses deemed uninhabitable.
- Business owners are encouraged to visit njeda.com to learn more about programs like the Main Street Disaster Relief Program.
In discussion related to residential property owners as well as businesses, officials emphasized the importance of inspecting and quickly mitigating flooded properties before mold contamination sets in.
Bill McMahon of the McMahon Agency said owners must take immediate action — flood insurance will not cover later work to remediate mold contamination.
Ocean City Emergency Management Coordinator Frank Donato said the city plans to send Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) to help identify vacation homes that may not have been visited since the storm. The city will then make efforts to contact owners and ask them to act before mold contamination becomes a larger problem.
See more on inspecting properties and mitigating flood damage.