A year after Superstorm Sandy sent more than six feet of ocean water into their ice cream store and destroyed everything inside, Brian and Michelle McMullin are still waiting to hear if they'll get grant money from New Jersey to help pay rebuilding costs.
But 60 miles away, in New York City, a $250,000 grant from a utility helped Madelaine Chocolate start its recovery after more than four feet of water flooded the factory and left mud, rust and mold covering walls, floors and more than 100 pieces of equipment.
Small business owners who applied for grants after the Oct. 29, 2012, storm are more likely to have gotten money by now from private sources like corporations, charities and chambers of commerce rather than the government. The problem: States must, by law, follow certain steps to give grants. But a lack of planning and negative attitudes about businesses also stand in the way of getting money quickly to companies that need it, according to people who study disaster recovery.
There's also resistance to giving small company grants because of the belief that business owners are well off, says Jeffrey Robinson, an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
"They think, 'they're making money, why should we give it to them?'" Robinson says. "But you don't know how much you rely on the local supermarket or the corner Dunkin' Donuts until it's gone."