It was 7:10pm on Sunday, October 28th 2012 in Red Hook, Brooklyn. A local popped his head into H&K Grocery store to issue a warning to the owner, Kamal. “Better close up, the water will be coming in soon.” Hoping for the best, Kamal closed up his shop and headed home for the night. The next morning, he returned to his store to find everything destroyed.
Kamal, owner of K&Y Grocery Store.
“The water had completely demolished my basement, floors, and cash register,” remembered Kamal.
Originally from Egypt, Kamal has owned H&K Grocery for ten years. Working every day has allowed him to see how the neighborhood has transitioned over the decade. Kamal recognizes most faces that come into his store; those that are unfamiliar, he makes a point to chat with. His grocery store is one of the few food options in the largely industrial section of Red Hook.
Recovery from Superstorm Sandy was not easy. Kamal had lost $50,000 of inventory, and, for 23 days, Kamal and his neighbors were without power. Many people told Kamal it was not worth reopening his store. But this was his sole livelihood, and he had two teenage sons looking towards college.
“It’s for them that I do this,” said Kamal.
Kamal set up a generator and went to work making as many repairs as possible. Sensitive to others in his community, he set up a stand to give burgers away to hungry workers. Finally, one month after Hurricane Sandy, Kamal reopened his store. BuKamal is still working on repairing all the damage from the storm.t his troubles did not end there. Kamal had wiped out his savings making repairs to reopen. He needed to finish repairs on his basement, purchase more inventory and retile sections of the floor. He needed help.
Kamal is still working on repairing all the damage from the storm.
Through a community organization supporting businesses damaged after Sandy, Kamal was introduced to an Accion Loan Consultant. After carefully working through the costs of remaining repairs, inventory and working capital with his Loan Consultant, he received a $10,000 loan and a $1,500 grant.
Kamal is still working on getting his store completely back to normal and building up his savings. Though issues are still abundant (he is being asked to pay the electric company for the month he was without power), Kamal remains optimistic. His son, who wants to grow up to be a judge, sent a letter thanking the Accion Loan Consultant who helped his father with the application.
“I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate the help and services you have given to my father and it really brings a smile to my face when I see him so happy and so enthusiastic going through his hard work day schedule. Thank you again for helping him.”
Kamal is one of many New York City business owners with a similar story. Eight months after launching our Sandy Recovery Program, it has come to a close. We supported 77 businesses with over $880,000 in microloans and $133,000 in grants.