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Small Business to the Rescue After Hurricane Sandy

Managing the ongoing success of their business creates more stress for small business owners than any other aspect of their lives—even raising children. . / Credit: Superheroine image via Shutterstock

As East Coast residents recover from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, the small business community has extended a helping hand.

From offering a cell phone charge to providing a hot shower, small businesses in the path of Hurricane Sandy are doing their part to help local communities get back on their feet.

As millions go without power, many businesses have offered electrical outlets for people to recharge their cell phones, laptops, tablets and other devices.

One local business, New York City-based Brightbox, has set up cell phone-charging stations throughout its neighborhood on 5th Avenue for area residents to use for free. Since the Brightbox offices still had power, CEO Billy Gridley said the business didn't hesitate to do its part in helping to get people back on their feet.

"I was around for 9/11, " Gridley told BusinessNewsDaily. "I know what it is like to get socked."

Gridley estimates Brightbox provided at least 1,000 cell phone charges in the first two days following the hurricane.

"There have been a lot of grateful people," Gridley said of the reaction his company received. "It makes us feel really great that we have found a way to help people continue their daily lives."

Other small businesses have helped people charge up, too. In Hoboken, N.J., CNN lets people charge phones off its satellite truck's generator, while local New York City drug store Duane Reade has let customers use its electrical outlets for phone and laptop charging.

As someone with a surplus of generators, John Engstrom, owner of Scheimpflug, a New York City firm specializing in digital production and lighting equipment, knew there would be plenty of opportunitiesto help out. Engstrom said he has used his generators to help power pumps removing water from basements and has taken his chainsaw around to help clear streets of downed trees.

"I'm not one to sit down and watch a disaster happen and not be part of a solution," Engstrom said. The business owner has even offered the use of his office's shower for those lacking water. "We've had a couple of people take us up on that," Engstrom said.

People have been so grateful that Engstrom said many even treat him like some sort of superhero. "I think it is just what everyone should be doing," he said. "You should be doing anything you can."

And the helping hand extends beyond East Coast businesses. ViWo Inc., a California-based Google Apps Reseller, has offered businesses affected by the storm a chance to get up and running again with free use of Google Apps for Business, a cloud-based email service that includes an office suite and data storage.

"I want to help everyone in the best way I know how," said Crisantos Hajibrahim, founder of ViWo."If you're a business owner suffering from this horrendous storm, I want to help you get back on your feet."

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.