Gulfport, MS -- Disaster officials are concerned with the low return of completed low-interest loan packets.
Mississippi State Coordinating Officer, Leon Shaifer, cautioned, "Just because an applicant for disaster assistance receives a loan application, it doesn't mean it is their only option. In fact, if a person fills out the loan application and does not qualify for a loan, they may be eligible for a cash grant to pay toward their disaster losses."
Shaifer urges everyone who received a loan application to return that application as soon as possible to the (SBA). "Only when we get that application back, do we know if they may be able to get a grant," he added.
To date, some 700 individuals and business owners have been given low-interest loan applications from the Small Business Administration following Tropical Storm Isidore.
Michael Bolch, the federal official coordinating the disaster recovery efforts, emphasized, "The only way FEMA or state agencies can determine the types of assistance available to applicants is for them to call the toll-free teleregistration number and complete the SBA packets."
"Nobody is forced to accept an SBA loan," added Bolch. "But the filled-in loan application helps us expedite disaster assistance to those who have eligible damage."
Both officials urge everyone, who suffered damages or property losses in the September 23 through October 6 severe weather, to begin the process by registering for recovery assistance. To register, call FEMA's toll-free registration number is 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Speech or hearing impaired persons should call TDD 1-800-462-7585.
Residents of the seven Mississippi counties declared eligible for individual disaster assistance must apply for assistance by November 30.