Besides losing all of her personal belongings, the hardest part of the situation, she said, has been being cut off from LBMC. She lost more than a job, Rogers said. Because it is a small hospital, it is much like a family.
“I really miss my work support system,” she said. “I miss that daily routine. Getting up, going to work, I miss that.”
Meanwhile, small business owners say they are being denied aid from government agencies — The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration — as well as insurance companies, leaving the fate of their businesses and employees uncertain. But they are uniting to share information and petition the government for help. Local organizations, including the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, have been holding meetings with FEMA representatives on behalf of business owners as well as residents.
Local stores and restaurants always expect to make less money in the winter than during the summer, but with so many residents still displaced, they have lost many loyal customers who in the past have helped them through the offseason. “If the residents don’t come back, the businesses won’t be able to reopen,” said one local business owner, Deborah Turhan.
Turhan and her husband, Tom, own Michael’s Tailoring & Dry Cleaning, on Park Avenue. They are now only partially open, with a folding table serving as a countertop and machines still not working. “It’s basically just enough to keep the lights on,” Turhan said of the business they are seeing.
When dealing with FEMA, the SBA and insurance companies, she said, she has encountered nothing but red tape. Her requests have been sent from one agency to another, but no one seems to have the answers she needs.
Rather than simply lament her situation, however, Turhan took a proactive approach, devising a business survey. It asks local business owners about their experiences with different agencies — difficulties they’ve had and needs they feel were not met. Turhan said she got the idea after hearing another business owner complaining in the days after the storm.
“He said, ‘I don’t want a blanket, I don’t want food,’” she recalled. “‘What I need is a generator so I can pump out my store and get restarted.’”