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Sandy One Year Later: A Story of Small-Business Regeneration

The clinic was tougher to get back up and running. After being closed for six months, patients who needed his services went elsewhere for treatment. "I went from seeing 70 patients a week to seeing three when we re-opened. We are just now back to where we were before the storm," he says.

"It sucked, but it sucked for everybody. We had no choice but to continue to move forward and that's what we did and hopefully we don't have to do it again," Pastuch says.

Though it's hard to give an overall tally of just how many businesses were forced to shut their doors because of Sandy -- in terms of Small Business Administration assistance, Hurricane Sandy is the third largest natural disaster event in U.S. history, after the combined Gulf Coast hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005, which in total cost $10.9 billion, and the Northridge, Calif., earthquake in January 1994, which cost $4 billion, according to the SBA. (Applications for SBA disaster loans related to Sandy have since closed.)

As of press time, the Small Business Administration approved 36,634 Sandy-related loans worth about $2.45 billion to individuals and businesses across New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. The vast majority of those loans were for individuals; while just $484 million, or 4,110 loans, were specifically business disaster loans. (The SBA's Disaster Assistance division did not close during this month's government shutdown.)

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There are a host of reasons why the business loan number was so relatively small - some businesses chose not to take on more debt, others were denied by the SBA when they couldn't show enough income to satisfy the agency's loan eligibility, at least in those first few months. Another factor was the lengthy and document-heavy application process, which could prove futile if a business owner lost all of his or her paperwork as a result of the storm.

New York City

It's one of the reasons New York City, for instance, is providing expanded and re-launched programs for small business owners. In May, it re-launched a $72 billion recovery loan and matching grant program with funding from the federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Action Plan for small businesses that still haven't been able to reopen yet.

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