Expo offers support to business owners affected by flood

Business owners affected by last month's raging floodwaters got some free advice at the Calgary Recovery Expo today.
Many businesses were forced to close last month when floodwaters hit Calgary, including this restaurant downtown. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Business owners affected by last month's raging floodwaters got some free advice at the Calgary Recovery Expo today.

Nearly 300 people attended the event where professionals from insurance, banking and health industries were on hand to offer support and flood relief information.

"[The goal is] to try to provide as much information as possible to get people capable of assessing the situation and moving forward," said Dwayne Mann with ATB Financial.

Mann said many business owners affected by the flood are possibly eligible to have their bank loans deferred for up to one year.

Finance Minister Doug Horner also announced Tuesday details about the Small Business Rebuilding Program, which will provide support to small businesses with 21 to 50 full-time employees.

The program complements the existing Disaster Recovery Program, which provides assistance to organizations with up to 20 employees, and the recently announced Hand-Up Plan that provides low-interest loans and interest rebates.

Stress impact yet to be seen

Business coach Steve Chapman's downtown office was damaged by the floods and he has many clients who lost their homes.

He said stress levels for most are running high.

"People get into crisis and they work essentially in numb survival," said Chapman. "It's when those days are over they start to realize, "What am I going to do now?" that panic and depression and everything else really starts to set in."

Morgan Craig-Broadwith, a workplace mental health expert, was also on hand at the expo to lend an ear to business owners whose livelihoods crumbled when the floodwaters hit.

"They're starting to realize what they've gone through, and stress is cumulative. September, October may be when we see people showing signs of stress, so that's a mental health issue."

Chapman hopes to bring business leaders, homeowners and politicians together this fall to come up with a plan to prevent further devastating floods.