Barry O’Donovan said he had the pieces of his business, the Kilkenny House Restaurant and Pub, put back together “in record time” after Hurricane Irene left 12 feet of water in the restaurant.
O’Donovan said a Small Business Administration loan gave him the cash flow to pay contractors up front during the six weeks it took for the Cranford pub to replace its electric, floors and subflooring, and repaint the 2,800 square feet of space. Roughly $300,000 of damage was done to the 3-year-old business.
“When it first happened, we were told we’d be up and running by Thanksgiving, and I said, ‘I can’t do that,'” O’Donovan said. “My wife’s birthday is October 15, and if I don’t have it opened before then, I’d be dead … I promised my wife I would have it opened before the 15th, and we actually had it opened on the eighth.”
For business owners that have yet to get everything back in place from the late August storm, today is the deadline to apply for disaster recovery loans through the SBA for property damage.
“When you first think of it, you’re working with government — and your first reaction is oh no, what red tape is going to be there? But there was none, and as long as I was there to show my returns and my receipts, they had no problems with it,” O’Donovan said of the process.
Michael Nardino said the Lodi Boys and Girls Club is located 40 yards from the Saddle River, one of the many rivers that swelled beyond its banks during Irene. Nardino said he used an SBA loan to get the club up and going again after flooding in 2007, and is working with the agency again “because they’re the only ones who really care.”
Twenty-two feet of water damaged floors and ceilings, and blew out first-floor windows at the club this year. Programs operated out of two Lodi schools instead of at the club up until a week before Thanksgiving. During basketball and club swimming season, Nardino said the club sees an average of 500 children each night after school.
Nardino said this round of loans from the SBA is being used to mitigate future flooding damage to the club’s three buildings. The Boys and Girls Club has been in its current location for 60 years, and Nardino said moving is not an option. The SBA loans will be used to repair the washed-away parking lot, put new roofs on two of the buildings and possibly make the doors watertight.
“The project managers guide you through the whole process. I was very happy with their services,” Nardino said.
According to Kathy Cook, SBA public affairs specialist, through Tuesday, the agency had approved 160 business loan applications, together worth more than $16 million. Also, disaster home loans in the state topped 2,000 applicants and more than $76.4 million in funding.
While the physical damage deadline is today, Cook said, business owners have until May 31 to apply for loans for economic injury help. The eligibility extends to any business in New Jersey, because all of the state was declared a disaster zone, as well as to businesses in counties neighboring disaster declared counties.
Loans are available to for-profit businesses at an interest rate of 4 percent, and to nonprofits at 3 percent.
“SBA low-interest disaster loans are probably one of the greatest accelerators for disaster recovery,” Cook said. “Having that money can certainly help that business get back into business much quicker than if they try to just use their own resources.”
“My business does good business here, so it’s vital for the town to have it open, and obviously it’s vital to me to have it open, ” O’Donovan said. “The fact that I got open rejuvenated everybody else. The feeling was, ‘If Barry can do it, I can do it.'”