Jackson, MS -- Mississippi disaster-aid applicants who are not eligible for a low-interest loan from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) may be eligible for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) and State of Mississippi's Individual and Family Grant program.
The Individual and Family Grant (IFG) program provides a safety net for people who have exhausted all other means of assistance and still have financial obligations resulting from the tornadoes, flooding and severe storms, which began November 24.
The grants may be used to cover such disaster-related expenses as essential home repairs, replacement of personal property, transportation, or the rental of equipment. Grants may also be used for items not normally covered under the SBA disaster loan programs, such as medical and dental bills, funeral expenses and disaster debris removal.
The IFG program is one of the many assistance programs triggered by the major disaster declaration President Bush issued December 7, at the request of Governor Ronnie Musgrove.
Unlike loans, the grants, of up to $14,800, do not have to be repaid.
To be eligible, the applicant must make initial contact with FEMA by calling their toll-free registration hotline, 1-800-621-3362. Applicants who receive the SBA loan packet should complete the forms and return the packet as quickly as possible. In some cases, depending upon the applicant's financial situation, a referral to the Individual and Family Grant program is made immediately.
You can receive face-to-face help in filling out the SBA loan packet at an SBA office near you. Currently, there are five temporary disaster loan assistance offices open to assist individuals and businesses. The locations of the offices are: Delta State University, Broom Hall, Room 135, in Cleveland; DeSoto County Department of Human Services, 2725 Highway 51 South, in Hernando; Madison County Department of Human Services, 867 MLK Drive, in Canton; Old South Panola Hospital, 155 Keating Road, Batesville; and Washington County Department of Human Services, 925 Main Street, in Greenville. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The offices will be closed, however, from 5:00 p.m., Thursday, December 20, to 8:00 a.m., Thursday, December 27, and on Tuesday, January 1, for the holidays.
Loans are available to residents and businesses of all sizes in the 10 counties eligible for federal disaster assistance as a result of President Bush's December 7 disaster declaration. The ten counties eligible for individual disaster assistance are Bolivar, DeSoto, Hinds, Humphreys, Madison, Panola, Quitman, Sunflower, Tate and Washington counties. Small businesses located in contiguous counties also may be eligible for certain types of disaster loans.
"The more quickly people complete and return the loan applications, the sooner financial assistance can be provided," said Gracia Szczech, the federal officer in charge of disaster recovery. Szczech pointed out that applicants should file regardless of pending insurance settlements, which can take longer to process than a loan. There are no penalties for early repayment of SBA loans.
Under the SBA program, loans of up to $200,000 are available to repair disaster-damaged primary residences. Homeowners and renters also may apply for loans up to $40,000 to replace personal property such as furniture, automobiles, clothing and other household fixtures.
Loans to businesses and non-profit organizations of up to $1.5 million are available to repair damage to real estate, machinery and equipment, and inventory. Economic Injury Disaster Loans (working capital) are available to small businesses unable to pay bills or meet expenses because of the disaster.
SBA loans may include amounts for "mitigation techniques" designed to lessen the impact of wind, flood and earth...