Victims could qualify for SBA loans
By By Kerry Whipple Bean
Businesses affected by last month’s flooding can qualify for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.“This is the only assistance we could get for businesses and individuals,” Escambia County Emergency Management Director David Adams said. “It’s a loan, not a grant, but it is better interest rates than they could get elsewhere.”
Damage in the county to businesses and homes did not meet a threshold for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but local governments are still awaiting an assessment from FEMA to see if they will receive help to pay for damage to roads and bridges and other flood costs. Adams said he does not expect an answer from FEMA until later this month.
SBA officials will be available next week in Atmore and the following week in Brewton to assist businesses with their applications.“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people affected by these storms and floods with the most effective and customer-focused response possible, to assist homeowners, renters, and businesses of all sizes with federal disaster loans,” said SBAAdministrator Karen G. Mills. “Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority.”
Mills said the SBA loans were made available in response to a request from Alabama Gov. Bob Riley for a disaster declaration after flooding the week of Dec. 12-18. The declaration covers Escambia County as well as Baldwin, Conecuh, Covington and Monroe counties in Alabama and Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties in Florida.
SBA will have customer service representatives available in Atmore and Brewton this month to issue loan forms, answer questions and explain the process of filing applications.
SBA representatives will be at the Atmore Public Library Tuesday, Jan. 5, through Friday, Jan. 8 from 8 a.m until 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 9, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.
They will be at the Emergency Management Office at the Escambia County Courthouse in Brewton from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11, a nd Tuesday, Jan. 12.
Adams said SBA officials will be in Atmore for more days because that city saw more damage from flash flooding than Brewton saw from creek flooding.
The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is March 1, 2010. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Sept. 29, 2010.
The SBA also provides mitigation funds to disaster victims up to 20 percent of the verified physical damage. These funds are designed to help borrowers pay for protective measures to minimize damages of the same kind in the future.
For small businesses, and most private non-profit organizations of all sizes, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.
Interest rates are as low as 2.562 percent for homeowners and renters, 4 percent for businesses and 3 percent for non-profit organizations with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.
Individuals and businesses unable to visit one of the Centers in person may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Business loan applications can also be downloaded from the SBA Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Completed applications should be returned to one of the Centers or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
Alabama residents affected by the severe storms and flooding may apply for disaster loans from SBA’s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
For more information about the SBA’s Disaster Loan Programs, visit our Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.