HARRISBURG, Pa. -- If there is one message that commonwealth and federal officials would like to share with the Pennsylvania residents recovering from the Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee disasters, it is fill out and return your U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) application -- don't throw it away!
After registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), applicants may receive a disaster home loan application from the SBA. Typically, people may think that the loans are only for businesses, or they simply do not want to take out a low-interest disaster loan. So they may push the SBA documents to the side or possibly discard them.
"This is where people tend to take themselves out of the process," said Federal Coordinating Officer Thomas J. McCool. "They don't complete the paperwork and miss out on FEMA aid beyond help with home repairs and rental assistance."
Applicants should know:
- SBA disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair/replace real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 from SBA to repair/replace personal property. Interest rates for residents are as low as 2.5 percent with terms for as long as 30 years. Businesses of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. The interest rate is as low as 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses.
- Filling out the SBA home loan application is a necessary step to be considered for some other forms of disaster assistance. Applicants may be eligible for more aid.
- If SBA is unable to approve a home loan, the applicant may be referred back to FEMA for some other disaster aid. Applicants may be awarded assistance for personal items, repair or replacement of a vehicle, etc.
"If you have registered with FEMA for disaster aid and then received an SBA application, but haven't done anything with it yet, please take another look," said McCool. "Contact FEMA or SBA for any questions you may have about the process."
If you haven't yet registered, do so right away. The deadline for registering with FEMA is November 14.
There are four ways to register with FEMA:
- Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Operators assist callers seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Help is available in most languages. If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 1-800-462-7585.
- Register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
- Register using a tablet or smartphone by visiting m.fema.gov.
- If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.
If you have a disability and need help registering, please contact FEMA and ask for assistance.
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 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 1-800-462-7585.
For SBA information, call 1-800-659-2955 or visit the SBA website at www.sba.gov. One-to-one assistance is available from both SBA and FEMA representatives at Disaster Recovery Centers throughout the state. To locate a DRC near you, go to www.fema.gov/drclocator. Representatives are at the DRCs to answer questions and to assist survivors in applying for help.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.