By Andrew D. Brosig
Killeen Daily Herald
Businesses face a unique challenge while trying to recover from disaster, such as the flooding last week caused by torrential rains when the remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine moved across Central Texas.
"Small businesses are hit harder," said Richard Kitterman of Harker Heights, executive director for the Better Business Bureau serving Central and South Texas. "Smaller businesses are less likely to be able to absorb those unforecast, unforeseen losses."
Those unplanned-for expenses can include loss of productivity by being forced to close for cleanup and repairs to their facilities. Businesses can also be faced with the expense of replacing or repairing damaged products, Kitterman said.
"(Small businesses) operate on such a narrow profit margin," he said. "You can't lose too many days in this economy of business or income."
Gov. Rick Perry declared Bell and 39 other Texas counties disaster areas after touring the region Thursday. That could open the door to state and federal assistance. But that assistance could be weeks or months in coming.
"Right now, we just have to sit tight and see what comes down the line," said John Crutchfield, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce. "I think the most important thing is for people to watch the media coverage to educate themselves on what's developing. There may possibly be some (Federal Emergency Management Agency) help. It just depends on the process."
Kitterman said he didn't think too many business in the area were in dire enough straits to be facing a decision of rebuild or not in the wake of the storms and flooding. But Judy Miller, owner of Miller Fine Art in Salado, is facing just that dilemma.
When Salado Creek flooded Wednesday morning, it dumped mud and as much as four feet of water into the gallery, damaging or destroying several pieces of art. And Miller said that, faced with rising costs, she had dropped the insurance on her gallery at the beginning of the year.
Miller said Thursday she didn't know what she was going to do. Several of her fellow members of the Salado business community have approached her to stay open, she said.
"My plans right now are to close," Miller said. "We saved a lot of (the art), but the building will have to be rebuilt. I'm kind of out of business right now."
Water was the culprit in most of the damage from last week's floods, said Melissa Naylor, a regional account manager for Servicemaster, a company that provides commercial and residential cleaning services.
She said Thursday the company had received numerous calls for help cleaning up after the flood.
"I know a lot of small businesses have been impacted," Naylor said. "One thing across the board would be loss of business. If they're closed down, they don't have any revenue coming in. It's just terrible. It's devastating."
Contact Andrew D. Brosig at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7469.