PAGO PAGO, American Samoa -- Delays in completing and returning disaster loan applications may delay other forms of disaster assistance, federal and territory officials said today. Officials of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the American Samoa Government (ASG) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urge disaster victims of Cyclone Heta to return their SBA applications as soon as possible.
After registering for disaster assistance at the Disaster recovery center (DRC) in the Lee Auditorium, most individuals will receive an SBA application for a low interest disaster loan. "We strongly urge you to submit your application as quickly as possible", said Thomas J. Costello, federal coordinating officer for the disaster recovery effort. "Even if you are not sure you will qualify for a loan, you must complete and return your SBA application in order to be referred to other disaster assistance programs", he added.
Filing an application does not obligate the applicant to accept a loan. However, in order to be considered for other forms of federal assistance, you must complete and return the application.
SBA is the federal government's primary source of funds for long-term private sector disaster recovery. For disaster damage to property owned by individuals, families and businesses of all sizes that are not fully covered by insurance, the basic form of federal assistance is a low-interest loan from SBA. SBA disaster loans of up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged personal property.
Businesses of any size and private non-profit organizations may borrow up to $1.5 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. Additionally, Economic Injury Disaster loans of up to $1.5 million are available to small businesses to help pay their fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can't be paid because of the disaster.
SBA loan officers are at the DRC to answer specific questions about how a disaster loan from SBA may help each victim recover from the disaster damage, and will provide one-on-one assistance in completing their loan application.
Anyone who needs additional information about their application are encouraged to call SBA at 699-1002 between 8 am and 2 pm Samoa time.
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 initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.