EMA holds meeting to help storm-battered businesses get back to work

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri talks at a meeting with local business representatives Thursday to discuss the recovery process for stores damaged by last week’s tornado in Wilkes-Barre Township. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader
Local business representatives meet at the Emergency Management Agency building in Wilkes-Barre on Thursday to discuss the future of stores damaged by last week’s tornado in Wilkes-Barre Township. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Despite her business taking a substantial beating from the tornado in Wilkes-Barre Township, Ronne Kurlancheek still kept up a smile at a meeting for business owners affected by the storm.

Kurlancheek, owner of Kurlancheek Home Furnishings, said the storm would be a bump in the road for the business’ long story.

“We’re at 112 years and going,” she said Thursday, adding that she plans to rebuild.

Kurlancheek made those comments after a meeting at the Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency office in Wilkes-Barre.

The meeting was focused on showing area business owners the multitude of options for getting back on their feet after the devastating storm. County Manager C. David Pedri opened the meeting by telling business owners that the county is there for them.

“We’re not ready to say, ‘That occurred and we’re done,’” Pedri said, adding the county is providing a “partnership to move forward.”

Speakers from different agencies came to discuss the loans businesses can apply for to help them rebuild.

Anthony Camillocci, of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, discussed applying for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, or EIDL.

According to Camillocci, an EIDL would require proof that at least five businesses were substantially damaged by a disaster. If that threshold is met, he said the businesses could get as much as $2 million to help rebuild.

Other organizations, such as the Luzerne County Office of Community Development, the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business & Industry, were on hand to discuss similar loans.

Richard Parry, regional representative for the state Department of Labor and Industry’s Rapid Response Services, echoed many of Pedri’s assurances.

“Help is available,” he said. “You won’t be abandoned.”

Parry said Rapid Response is focused on making sure employees of the damaged businesses are able to maintain an income. Parry introduced a team who spoke about the importance of workers speaking with CareerLink, applying for unemployment, and applying for insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Christine Jensen, of the Wilkes-Barre CareerLink office, said Rapid Response sessions would be held Friday, Monday and Wednesday at the office, 32 E. Union St. in Wilkes-Barre.

Friday and Wednesday’s sessions start at 10 a.m.; Monday’s is at 1 p.m.

Kurlancheek felt the meeting was very informational and would help as her business continues to rebuild.

She said what’s left of her building was set to be demolished Friday at noon, but a press release from the company indicated the furniture store had relocated to a temporary location and would be offering showings by appointment. For now, it’s working on fulfilling all outstanding orders.

Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri talks at a meeting with local business representatives Thursday to discuss the recovery process for stores damaged by last week’s tornado in Wilkes-Barre Township.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL062218tornadomeeting2-1.jpgLuzerne County Manager C. David Pedri talks at a meeting with local business representatives Thursday to discuss the recovery process for stores damaged by last week’s tornado in Wilkes-Barre Township. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Local business representatives meet at the Emergency Management Agency building in Wilkes-Barre on Thursday to discuss the future of stores damaged by last week’s tornado in Wilkes-Barre Township.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_TTL062218tornadomeeting1-1.jpgLocal business representatives meet at the Emergency Management Agency building in Wilkes-Barre on Thursday to discuss the future of stores damaged by last week’s tornado in Wilkes-Barre Township. Sean McKeag | Times Leader

By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan