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In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, there remains devastation throughout the states along the southeastern U.S. coast. With 16 offices in the southern United States (including offices in Jacksonville, Florida and Columbia, South Carolina), Adams and Reese has firsthand business continuity and recovery experience. The firm draws on its experience with previous natural disasters throughout its regional footprint and offers tips to help local businesses overcome the challenges faced with recovery now and into the future.

“We understand how a major weather event changes lives,” said William P. “Bill” McElveen, Jr., chairman of the Adams and Reese Executive Committee and a partner in the firm’s Columbia office. “After the initial personnel safety and property damage concerns are addressed, businesses can face a multitude of economic, human resources and rebuilding issues. We are able to offer assistance with the business recovery process and provide the legal services that are necessary along the way.”

Added Tim Volpe, a partner in the Adams and Reese Jacksonville office: “Many of our attorneys have been through natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Alabama tornadoes, flooding in Nashville and the most recent historic Louisiana flooding. “Our ‘Road to Recovery” information is a great reference and a place to start the process of rebuilding after Hurricane Matthew.”

Business Continuity in a Natural Disaster: First Steps on the Road to Recovery

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew are many challenges that will require not only federal or state assistance but also creative business planning. Some of Adams and Reese's regional offices have been impacted by this and many other recent weather-related disasters, so we understand the challenges of getting back to business. To assist the affected communities in this time of need, Adams and Reese has compiled the following guide to some of the first steps of the recovery process.

Insurance Matters and Applications for Disaster Relief
Registering for disaster relief and contacting insurers are the very first steps in the process of obtaining the resources necessary to repair and rebuild your business. This process should include the confirmation of eligibility for business interruption coverage, and the collection of proper documentation.

Adams and Reese is monitoring the status of various emergency rules issued by government agencies and the funding of relief programs to ensure our clients know what is available in the coming weeks and months. That relief can come in a variety of forms from multiple sources, including:

  • Relief programs through the National Flood Insurance Program (NIFP)
  • Federal and state grants (FEMA and SBA)
  • Business disaster loans (OCD-DRU and SBA)
  • State and federal tax relief
  • South Carolina Emergency Management Division
  • Economic development incentives and tax credits
  • Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan
  • Florida Disaster Unemployment Assistance Program (DUA)
  • Florida Short Time Compensation Program
  • Federal and state construction programs

Personnel Issues
Even businesses that have well-developed emergency policies will face many questions related to employee leave and safety during the recovery. You may need to address the following issues:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) coverage Military (including National Guard) leave
  • Employee First Responders
  • 401(s) hardship loans
  • Unemployment compensation
  • OSHA considerations
  • Plant closures

Potential Legislative Assistance (State and Federal)
As we did in Louisiana after that state’s recent and historic flooding, Adams and Reese government relations team members have offered their support in assisting the State of South Carolina and its Congressional delegation in efforts to formulate appropriate economic incentive programs that will allow individuals and businesses to return to the affected areas. The formulation of these programs is in the infancy stage and the current form of these programs will be altered and influenced by Federal and State legislative bodies in the weeks, months and years ahead. We will continue to provide updates as those programs evolve. We will also be available to assist our clients in loss recovery and formulate investment strategies made possible by these incentives programs.

Construction Litigation
Once the rebuilding process begins, it will be important to protect your business from potential litigation, especially as it relates to construction, and to take measures to prevent such disputes from arising. Some of the more common types of litigation that follow a disaster involve:

  • Real estate disputes
  • Predatory pricing claims
  • False claims
  • Warranty issues
  • Construction defect claims
  • Professional Liability (Engineers and Architects)
  • Public contract and subcontract negotiations