Jackson, MS -- Disaster applicants in nine northeast Mississippi counties
who suffered damage from the May 5th though 8th severe storms, tornadoes
and high winds and who receive a loan application from the
U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) should take the time to fill it out, even if they don't want a loan, urged disaster recovery officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).
The nine Mississippi counties declared a disaster by President Bush on May 23, 2003, are: Calhoun, Clay, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lee, Lowndes, Monroe, Pontotoc and Webster.
Many of the applicants who call FEMA's toll-free application line, 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585), and apply for assistance will receive an SBA loan application within seven to ten days of making the call.
"The loan application provides necessary information for determining the appropriate assistance for that applicant. If the SBA decides not to offer a loan, the individual is then automatically referred to other available disaster assistance programs," Carlos Mitchell, the FEMA official in charge of disaster recovery, said.
Government disaster assistance only covers basic needs and will not normally compensate applicants for their entire loss. If you have insurance, the government may help pay for basic needs not covered under your insurance policy. Some disaster aid does not have to be paid back, while other forms of help may come in the form of low-interest loans.
These low-interest disaster loans are available to residents and businesses of all sizes in the disaster-declared counties. Interest rates on SBA loans can be as low as 2.937 percent for homeowners and 3.189 percent for businesses. Actual loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant's financial condition.
"We are urging everyone who sustained losses because of the recent severe weather to apply for assistance and mail in the completed loan application as soon as possible. The sooner we receive the completed loan application, the sooner it will be processed," added Leon Shaifer, MEMA's state coordinating officer in charge of long-term recovery.
People who have questions about their application or who want to know about other disaster assistance programs should call FEMA's toll-free Helpline, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with speech or hearing impairment should call TTY 1-800-462-7585.
Information on SBA loan applications is also available by calling the SBA Helpline at 1-800-359-2227.