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Banks Offer Credit Help to Businesses in Wake of Hurricane Losses

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As the country picks up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy tore through nearly a dozen states last week, small business owners are wondering how to recover financially.

Damage estimates from the superstorm are in the $30 to $50 billion range. New Jersey, where Sandy made landfall on October 30, and New York, whose death toll stood at nearly 50 at last count, were the hardest-hit states.

Bank of America said they have more than 1,000 employees contacting customers to see how they can help following the storm. “We are making every effort possible to connect with our customers in the affected areas,” said David Darnell, co-chief operating officer at Bank of America. “These are our customers, we know them, and we are in a good position to help them assess their immediate needs.”

$2.5 Billion in Extra Credit

Darnell said Bank of America projected they will need $2.5 billion in additional credit. The bank is offering customers modified terms on loans, credit cards, and lines of credit. It has also increased credit limits. Chase, Citibank, and most other big banks are following suit. Customers should ask their banks and credit card issuers for help as they recover.

On the American Express OPEN Forum for small business owners, a recent post emphasized that customers should reach out for help with disaster recovery, saying that “when it comes to major disasters like Sandy, the federal government and states set up relief funds. Check out what is available from FEMA or your state. But don’t depend solely on government assistance to get your business restarted.”

Before the storm made landfall, many banks waived fees for the duration of the storm. Citibank, Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America waived foreign ATM fees, late credit card payment penalties, overdrafts, and similar fees.

The banks have also pledged millions of dollars in donations to the American Red Cross and other organizations to aid with storm recovery.

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