Within two weeks the southern United States was pummeled by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and our neighbors south of the border felt an 8.1 magnitude earthquake — an overwhelming amount of devastation in a relatively small proximity. It felt like a reminder from Mother Nature, lest we forget who’s really in charge.

Here in Houston, my heart goes out to everyone suffering in the wake of the storm. Small businesses, too, struggle tremendously after disasters. According to the 2013 Small Business Disaster Survey, 74% of small business owners don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place, while 84% don’t carry natural disaster insurance. While stark, these statistics aren’t terribly surprising — after all, small businesses are often so strapped for time and money that they barely have time run day-to-day operations, let alone plan for a disaster that never feels imminent.

But when these unforeseen disasters hit, work is disrupted, orders are lost, and fulfillment becomes a non-option. While large companies have plans in place and are able to recoup lost time and revenue, small businesses feel the pain for a long time. Here are 5 ways you can help the small business community after a hurricane or natural disaster.

  1. Consume local. When disaster strikes, farmers and local producers feel it. They lose batches, crops, and animals, not to mention shipments, deliveries, and markets. Help them by visiting farmers markets and patronizing restaurants and stores that source locally.
  2. Tip your providers. Sure, you should always tip anyone in a service field that works for gratuities, but be especially mindful after a disaster. Their rent is still due, they still have bills to pay — and they’ve probably lost several shifts of income. 
  3. Support a local charity. Local charities and organizations are already on the ground and working toward a particular mission. With their established community connections, they usually offer the greatest ways to address immediate needs. 
  4. Offer your time. Just like homes, smaller restaurants, stores, and offices may need major clean-up efforts. Offer to help these small businesses clean surfaces, dispose of damaged materials, and update their social accounts. (Be sure to follow the CDC’s guidelines for what to do after a hurricane or flood.) 
  5. Share resources. Small business offices and storefronts are prone to the elements, but they need to stay running. Can your workplace spare a conference room? Do you have a generator you’re not using? Perhaps you know of an industrial kitchen with space?

FEMA reports 40% of small businesses never reopen after a disaster because the cost of recovery is too great to bear. Indeed disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma can be make-or-break for a small business — those owners have much to do to recoup their losses, so the least we can do is help them out where possible.