Tupelo, MS -- Residents of Mississippi's 35 disaster counties who have registered for state and federal assistance were reminded Saturday that they must fill out Small Business Administration (SBA) loan applications even if they don't want a loan.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said information in the loan application is used to determine an applicant's eligibility for grants and this cannot be determined until a completed packet is filed.
"Filling out the forms doesn't obligate anyone to take a loan. It is part of our one-stop application process to expedite getting assistance to those who need it," said John D. Hannah of FEMA, the official in charge of federal recovery operations.
"Assistance is only a toll-free telephone call away, and anyone who suffered losses in the disaster should register," said Leon Shaifer, state-coordinating officer for the Mississippi disaster recovery operations. He emphasized that disaster assistance other than SBA loans does not have to be repaid.
The number is 1-800-462-9029 (1-800-462-7585 for the speech or hearing impaired).
Officials said those who have received insurance payments for damage also need to register to ensure that they are protected in the event hidden damage is revealed after they have settled with the insurance company.