State and federal officials say the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) plays a major role in helping disaster survivors recover.
Next to insurance, they say the SBA is the survivor’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property.
If you are a survivor of Hurricane Irma, live in one of the 48 Individual Assistance-designated counties in Florida and have applied for help with FEMA, you may be referred to SBA for additional assistance.
Officials emphasize that it’s important to complete and submit a low-interest disaster loan application as soon as possible, if you receive one. This will ensure that the disaster recovery process continues, and options are kept open. Even if you do not believe you need a loan, you should complete and submit the application. If SBA determines you are eligible for a loan, you are under no obligation to accept it.
Homeowners and renters who submit a SBA application and are not approved for a loan may be referred to FEMA and considered for other FEMA grants and programs that could include assistance for disaster-related car repairs, household items and other expenses.
SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, most private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters. State and federal officials say SBA can help businesses and private nonprofit organizations with up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate and other business assets. Eligible small businesses and nonprofits may apply for economic injury disaster loans to help meet working capital needs such as business losses caused by the disaster.
In addition, officials say a homeowner may be eligible for a disaster loan up to $200,000 to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners or renters may be eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property.
SBA may also be able to help homeowners and renters replace important personal items such as personal property – including automobiles – damaged or destroyed in the disaster.
To apply for a SBA low-interest disaster loan, you can visit a FEMA disaster recovery center and meet with a SBA representative in person. SBA has staff at all recovery centers to help with applications. To locate the nearest center, call the FEMA helpline at (800) 621-3362, use the FEMA app for smart phones or go online to www.fema.gov/DRC.
You can also apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 24. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 11, 2018.
For additional details on the locations of recovery centers and the loan application process, you can call the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 (or 800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officials say you may be eligible for additional funds to cover the cost of improvements that will protect your property against future damage. Examples of improvements include retaining walls, seawalls, sump pumps, etc. SBA mitigation loan money would be in addition to the amount of the approved disaster loan, but may not exceed 20 percent of the total amount of physical damage to real property and personal property as verified by SBA. SBA approval of the mitigating measures will be required before any loan increase.
Lastly, officials recommend that you don’t wait for an insurance settlement before submitting an SBA loan application. You can begin your recovery immediately with a low-interest SBA disaster loan. The loan balance will be reduced by any insurance settlement. SBA loans may be available for losses not covered by insurance or other sources.