CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- Victims of the late July storms should return their loan applications from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) quickly - even if they do not want a loan. Homeowners and renters must send this application back before they can be considered for a grant from the state of West Virginia.
"The applications are a bridge to other possible assistance," Louis Botta, federal coordinating officer, said. "If the SBA cannot offer a loan, the individual will be referred to other available disaster assistance programs." Most applicants will receive a packet containing the SBA loan application within two weeks of teleregistration.
Interest rates on SBA loans can be as low as 3.187 percent for homeowners and as low as 2.9 percent for businesses. Because the circumstances of applicants differ, the repayment terms ? including interest rate, monthly payment and maturity ? are determined by the SBA on a case-by-case basis. The maximum term for a loan is 30 years.
"Filing an application in no way obligates the applicant to accept a loan," William E. Leggiero, said. "We are urging anyone who has sustained losses because of the storms to file as soon as possible. Once an application has been returned, an SBA loss verifier will survey the damages."
The loans are available to residents and businesses of all sizes in the declared counties that were affected by the summer storms. Small businesses located in contiguous counties also may be eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans to assist with working capital needs related to the disaster.
"The sooner people complete and return loan applications, the sooner financial assistance can be provided," Leggiero said. He pointed out that applicants should file regardless of pending insurance settlements, which can take much longer to process than a loan. In these cases, the home- or business-owners can use insurance settlements to pay off loan balances. There are no penalties for early repayment of SBA loans.
SBA disaster loans cover uninsured or underinsured disaster losses. Under the program, SBA offers loans of up to $200,000 to repair disaster-damaged primary residences. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to replace personal property such as furniture, automobiles, clothing and other household fixtures.
Loans of up to $1.5 million to businesses and non-profit organizations are available to repair damage to real estate, machinery, and equipment and inventory. Small businesses that did not sustain any physical damage, but that are unable to pay bills or meet expenses because of the effects of the disaster, may also be eligible for working capital loans.
SBA loan applications are available at the FEMA/state Disaster Recovery Center. People who need additional information regarding other disaster assistance programs are urged to call FEMA's toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). People with hearing- or speech-impairments may call the TTY, 1-800-462-7585. For more information, please visit SBA's Website @ www.SBA.gov/disaster.
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 Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.