Cyclone Debbie 6 Months On – Business bounces back
6 months on from Tropical Cyclone Debbie, Queensland’s small businesses have once again shown their unique capacity to rebuild and get on with the job, according to the latest CCIQ research.
Cyclone Debbie’s impact should not be underestimated says CCIQ General Manager Advocacy, Kate Whittle, “The Queensland economy took a $2 billion hit from Debbie and it had a direct impact on the state’s growth with Treasury estimating ¾ of percentage points shaved from economic growth over 16/17 and 17/18 years.”
“CCIQ is currently undertaking a survey of the impacts to small businesses and the progress of recovery. Our preliminary results show, of businesses affected 17% were majorly and critically impacted, while 42% of small businesses were indirectly impacted.
“Many businesses lost stock, equipment and vital infrastructure and third of impacted businesses were closed for up to 3 days.
“But once again, Queensland businesses have shown their ability to bounce back to get on with the job of rebuilding and getting back to business.”
Insurance claims have now topped over $1.5 billion, higher than Cyclone Yasi’s insurance bill, and many feared a repeat of the bad experiences businesses had following previous natural disasters.
“It is very rare that the insurance industry attracts praise, but small businesses are pleased with the response of the state’s insurers. With Claims topping $1.5bn, small business owners expected they would see the delays, loopholes and resistance that had prevented businesses from bouncing back after previous disasters, but with Debbie the insurance industry’s response was overwhelmingly positive.” Ms Whittle said.
“Insurance claims on average took 2 weeks to a month to be finalized, however 15% of businesses are still waiting on insurance claims to be processed. Despite some lengthy delays, small business response towards insurers has been favourable, with some members describing their dealings with insurance as “outstanding” and “positive”.”
As the recovery continues, there are, according to small businesses, a number of things that can be done to help in the event of a future disaster.
“Businesses are telling us that after a disaster the best ways to help are by providing financial assistance with cash flow and concessional loans from Government to help business meet their immediate debtor obligations is a must moving forward.”
“Access to Government assistance needs to be simplified and speeded up. Despite the cyclone being six months ago, some areas are still awaiting government assistance. Small business has described the response from government as ‘adequate’, but more can and must be done as we are predicted to experience extreme weather events in the future.”
“Small businesses in the regions have also highlighted negative media coverage as hampering recovery efforts as tourism numbers plummeted in the wake of the cyclone and would ask that media reports the disaster, but quickly highlights the recovery and that regions are open for business and visitors.”
Full findings of the impacts of Cyclone Debbie will be published in CCIQ’s upcoming report which will be released in October.