Syracuse, NY- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and New York State officials urge disaster relief applicants to fill out and return the SBA loan applications included in their registration.
President Bush's major disaster declaration for Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Columbia, Delaware, Fulton, Greene, Livingston, Montgomery, Ontario, Rensselaer, Schuyler, Steuben and Yates counties affected by the severe storms made those who sustained damages not fully covered by insurance eligible to apply for disaster assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. These numbers operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
"Individuals and businesses seeking assistance as a result of these storms are encouraged to return the applications as soon as possible," said Justo Hernández, federal coordinating officer for FEMA's disaster recovery operation. "Until the application is returned and processed, we cannot tell if an individual is eligible for an SBA loan or other disaster assistance programs offered through FEMA."
"Even if applicants do not qualify for SBA loans, they may be considered for other disaster assistance from FEMA or the state," Hernández said. "But, when disaster applicants fail to return SBA loan applications, they may remove themselves from consideration for this aid."
William E. Leggiero, Jr., SBA area director, said, "For registered applicants who receive an SBA application, completing the application is a necessary step in the disaster assistance process. Returning the application is an equally important next step."
Leggiero stressed that filling a loan application in no way obligates the applicant to accept a loan, and he encouraged applicants to return loan applications regardless of pending insurance settlements.
"In many cases, the insurance settlement process can take longer than
it does for SBA to process a disaster loan request. In these cases, the applicants
can use the loan to begin their recovery processes and use their insurance settlements
to pay off loan balances," Leggiero said.
People with questions about disaster loans can call the SBA office at 1-800-659-2955.
At the request of Governor George E. Pataki, President Bush signed a major disaster declaration on August 29, 2003 to provide assistance to the counties affected during the severe storms, flooding and tornadoes that hit the State between July 21, 2003 and August 13, 2003.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to
prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and
recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive
mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizens Corps,
the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.