JACKSON, Tenn. -- Disaster managers in Tennessee report that many applicants for assistance may be losing out on both low-interest disaster loans and additional federal grants because they are not returning their loan applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials, most disaster victims who register for federal assistance receive a disaster loan packet to be filled out and returned to the SBA. “Those applications serve two important purposes, said Michael Bolch, FEMA’s head of disaster operations in Tennessee. “They help SBA determine a person’s eligibility for a disaster loan, and they provide the information FEMA needs when we consider applicants for additional cash grants. If they don’t return that paperwork, the door is closed on any additional federal help from either SBA or FEMA.”
Bolch added that those additional cash grants are intended to help people who do not qualify for an SBA loan, but who still have unmet needs that were not covered by insurance or help from volunteer agencies.
SBA officials point out that returning the loan application does not obligate anyone to accept a disaster loan. If people have questions or problems filling out the form, there are SBA specialists available to help, either in person at the agency’s two disaster assistance centers in Trenton and Gallatin, or by phone at 1-800-659-2955.
The Trenton center is located at the old Health Center Building at 200 East Eaton Street. The center in Gallatin opens Monday, May 8, at the city Public Utility Building, 239 Hancock Street. Both facilities will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice.
The SBA provides low-interest loans for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and nonprofit organizations to help cover their losses from last month’s tornadoes and storms. The agency also offers economic injury loans for businesses affected by this disaster. The deadline to apply for a loan for physical damage to homes or businesses is June 5. Small business owners can apply for economic injury disaster loans until Jan. 5, 2007.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program.