DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — Illinois residents with damage from the summer floods July 19-Aug. 7 can get disaster help in any language.
“With any language from Arabic to Vietnamese, someone can get on the phone and walk you through the entire process, from telling us about your damages to completing the necessary forms,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Gregory Eaton, in charge of the Illinois disaster response for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Possibly the most important form to complete is the U.S. Small Business Administration’s loan application. No one has to accept a loan offer, but homeowners and renters who the SBA determines cannot afford a loan may be referred back to FEMA for possible additional assistance.
To make sure language is no obstacle in completing the applications, SBA provides multilingual operators who can address questions and concerns through a toll-free number, 1-800-659-2955, TTY 1-800-877-8339. Also, multilingual assistance is available at any of the five Disaster Recovery Centers to help applicants fill out the SBA application, a process that can take as little as 15 minutes.
“The SBA wants to make sure language is no barrier to getting help,” Eaton said. “Literally, the SBA speaks your language.”
For those who can afford a loan, SBA low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofit organizations are the largest source of disaster assistance, since loans can be larger than FEMA’s grant limits.
SBA and FEMA have distributed thousands of flyers and brochures in Arabic, Bulgarian, traditional Chinese, German, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese.
FEMA Community Relations workers have placed many thousands of these flyers directly into the hands of residents throughout the disaster community at community events, libraries, businesses, recovery centers and other locations where people gather.