Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Urges SBA to Declare Disaster

Aug 27, 2018
Press Release

Red Tide Blooms “Among Worst in History”

Local Businesses Hurt Badly, Congressman Told by Community Leaders

WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan today urged the Small Business Administration to issue an immediate disaster declaration to help local businesses recover from “one of the worst red tide blooms in history.”

Buchanan met with business leaders on Friday and heard their pleas for assistance in dealing with a crisis that has damaged tourism in Sarasota, Manatee and Hillsborough counties. 

“Gov. Rick Scott has formally requested a disaster declaration for our region, but as the co-chair of Florida’s congressional delegation and a senior member of Congress, I wanted to add my weight to the urgency of the matter.”

Read Buchanan’s letter to SBA Administrator Linda McMahon below: 

August 27, 2018
 
The Honorable Linda McMahon
Administrator
U.S. Small Business Administration
409 Third Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20416
 
Dear Administrator McMahon, 

I’m writing today to urge the Small Business Administration to issue an immediate disaster declaration for Sarasota, Manatee and Hillsborough Counties due to the widespread economic devastation caused by red tide.

Red tide blooms off Florida’s west coast, among the worst in history, have damaged our economy, marine life and environment. Disaster assistance loans provided by the SBA are critically important to help our local businesses recover from this devastating crisis.  

Gov. Rick Scott has formally requested a disaster declaration for our region, but as the co-chair of Florida’s congressional delegation and a senior member of Congress, I wanted to add my weight to the urgency of the matter.

The stench of dead fish littering our beaches and respiratory problems caused by the current outbreak have caused people to cancel or change travel plans to some of the region's most popular tourist attractions and driven local residents inland, away from coastal businesses.

Due to the overwhelming environmental damage red tide has inflicted on our coastal communities, Suncoast small businesses have reported millions of dollars in lost revenue. In August alone, Sarasota County reported more than $1.4 million in damages. A survey by Visit Sarasota County found that 75 percent of local hotels have seen reservations canceled due to red tide concerns.

I have heard about its damaging effects from local restaurant owners, some of which are reporting a 70 percent drop in business compared with the same time last year. Retail shops and recreational businesses have also suffered losses.

Small businesses are vital to our economy. When they do well, the Suncoast does well. These SBA loans would give them another option for the financial assistance they need to survive the negative economic impact of red tide that has plagued our shores since last October.

Our coastal communities and businesses have been ravaged by the harmful effects of red tide, and with no end in sight to this catastrophe - I urge you to provide relief for small businesses and move quickly to issue an Administrative declaration of disaster for Sarasota, Manatee and Hillsborough Counties.

I look forward to your prompt response on this critically important matter. 

Sincerely,