Many Small Businesses Hurt by Flood Despite No Damage

Small business owner Hi Bedford-Roberson works on a stained glass piece Monday.

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Just like hundreds of homes across South Carolina, a lot of businesses were damaged by South Carolina’s historic flooding. But a lot of small businesses were hurt despite not sustaining any damage.

“We had no structural damage. We had no flooding,” says Hi Bedford-Roberson, co-owner of Classical Glass of SC in Columbia, which makes stained glass and printed glass. Their work is in churches, homes, and businesses across the Southeast.

Even though their building was fine, Columbia’s North Main Street in front of their business and for blocks both ways was closed because of road damage. “We had no customers, and when you’re a small business, that impacts you greatly, especially if you have projects that are finished and so the customer wants to come pick them up and they’re going to make their final payment and they can’t get here, so your cash flow is interrupted,” she says.

Todd Bradley, owner of Professional Tire and Radiator Service, had the same problem. “Five days they had it blocked off at the light up here. So it greatly affected our business. We’ve done about 20 percent of what we normally do that week,” he says.

According to the Small Business Chamber of Commerce, there is some help available for small businesses that lost business, but it’s not a lot. “The only thing available for businesses that lose revenue because of lack of customers is an economic injury disaster loan for working capital. This is true regardless if they suffered damage from the flood or not. There is no FEMA grant to help in either case,” says Frank Knapp, executive director of the Small Business Chamber of Commerce in SC.

Bedford-Roberson says, “But it is a loan. It’s not a compensation, so to speak. But still, it’s nice to know that we can try that.”

But Bradley says, “I’m not really interested in that at all. We’re just going to tighten the belts and have a brake sale or tire sale and try to work our way out of it.”

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