Marine trades associations are trying to get word out to all marine businesses about routes they can take to begin the rebuilding process after Hurricane Sandy tore through, leaving many with severe damage to repair and economic hardship.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association is working with trade associations in storm-affected states to help dealers and marinas access immediate federal aid as well as longer-term small business relief.
The NMMA has held conference calls with the marine trades associations in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, along with Federal Emergency Management Administration and Small Business Administration officials.
The process has been difficult because many have limited communications and are still struggling to meet basic needs. It is also a challenge considering how inconsistent the damage to even those devastated areas has been.
“Everybody’s still struggling just to try to figure out our next steps,” Marine Trades Association of New Jersey executive director Melissa Danko told Soundings Trade Only. “I have members gutting out buildings that were completely flooded out. Others are recovering boats. There are some that have sustained damage who are getting things up and running, but we still have a whole number of facilities that still don’t have power who are trying to work remotely or by satellite. We were hit really, really hard here.”
Danko says most marina owners and dealers she speaks to aren’t aware that the SBA has cleared a lot of the red tape required to qualify for loans, for example, requiring years of paperwork that could have been lost in the storm, and also expediting the process.
“There’s a desire from a pretty high level at SBA to really connect with some people in affected areas, get a sense of what’s happening and give information that will help businesses get back up and running,” Cindy Squires, the NMMA’s chief counsel for regulatory affairs, told Soundings Trade Only.
Danko also wants marine businesses to know that the offer of assistance extends to non-members as well as members.
“Everyone’s just trying to crawl out and dig out of the mess that they’re in,” New York Marine Trades Association director Chris Squeri told Soundings Trade Only. “Unfortunately for the industry, some of the guys that lived close by to their facilities, their homes also got damaged. So you’re dealing with your personal damage and your business damage. A lot of these guys, it’s going to be tough for them to come back.”
That’s where the NMMA is trying to help.
“In New Jersey and New York some don’t have power in their house or business, they only have a quarter tank of gas and they’re not leaving the house until they know they can get gas,” Squires said. “There are a lot of concerns and difficulty just getting around. In some cases, the marinas were very protected. In other cases, not only is the marina gone, the land that marina was on is gone. A whole new inlet has been created in one area. These are going to be pretty big concerns.”
— Reagan Haynes