NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Many individuals who register for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency receive an application for a disaster recovery loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. While FEMA grants can help individuals and families with immediate recovery needs, FEMA can seldom provide enough to restore disaster survivors to their pre-disaster condition. SBA disaster recovery loans are the primary source of federal funds for long-term recovery for homeowners, renters and businesses large and small.
Low-interest SBA disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to qualified homeowners to repair or replace damaged real estate. In addition, $40,000 may be available to homeowners and renters to repair or replace damaged personal property. (In both cases, the SBA disaster loans can be made only for damage not covered by insurance.)
If the SBA finds an individual does not qualify for a loan, the applicant may be referred back to FEMA for possible additional assistance. The possibility of receiving additional grants is an important reason for assistance applicants to complete and return their SBA applications?even for those who do not believe they qualify and do not want to borrow money.? No one is ever required to accept a loan.
SBA officials urge anyone who needs help completing an application to bring it to the nearest Disaster Recovery Center. The SBA will assist with preparation and send it overnight free of charge to its national processing center. To find the nearest DRC call the FEMA Helpline, 800-621-FEMA (3362) or go online to fema.gov/drclocator.
When it comes to businesses of all sizes and for non-profits, the SBA makes two types of direct disaster loans:
- Any disaster-damaged business in a declared county can apply for a loan of up to $2 million to help replace damaged property or restore it to its pre-disaster condition.
- Even if a business has not sustained physical damage, economic-injury disaster loans are available to provide necessary working capital until normal operations resume after a disaster. Those loans are used to help pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can't be paid because of the disaster.
The first step for individuals and businesses toward obtaining recovery assistance is to register with FEMA:
- By phone, call 800-621-FEMA (3362) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time. Assistance is available in many languages. Those who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have a speech disability may use TTY 800-462-7585.
- By computer, go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
- By smartphone or tablet, use m.fema.gov.
On May 1, a presidential disaster declaration made federal assistance available to eligible individuals in Bledsoe, Bradley, Cocke, Greene, Hamilton, Johnson, McMinn, Monroe, Rhea and Washington counties for help with losses caused by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and associated flooding from April 25 to April 28, 2011.
Subsequently, on May 9, a presidential disaster declaration made federal funding available to eligible individuals in Dyer, Lake, Obion, Shelby, and Stewart counties for help with losses caused by severe weather storms, straight-line winds and flooding beginning on April 19, 2011, and continuing.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-75...