CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Tennessee residents affected by the Feb. 29 – March 2 tornadoes need to complete and return the disaster loan application they received after registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The loan application could be the key to rebuilding a damaged home or business.
Survivors are urged to consider low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. While FEMA assistance addresses the immediate needs of disaster survivors, it is low-interest disaster loans that can help homeowners, renters and businesses handle the larger costs of rebuilding or replacing personal property and contents.
Although survivors are not required to accept a disaster loan if one is offered, completing the SBA application is a part of the process and is a key to receiving other assistance, such as FEMA grants, in the 10 Tennessee counties designated for federal disaster assistance.
Homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations in these counties who qualify, can use SBA disaster loans to pay for disaster-related damages. Businesses or owners of rental property affected by the storm may also be eligible.
The SBA offers loans up to $200,000 to repair or replace primary residences and up to $40,000 for personal property damages, including automobiles. The interest rate on disaster loans for homeowners may be as low as 1.875 percent, with terms up to 30 years.
Loans to businesses may be up to $2 million, with interest rates as low as 4 percent. These loans may help with repairs, replacement of property, and working capital for economic injury. The SBA provides small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations economic injury disaster loans for ongoing business expenses to recover from the economic impact of a disaster. Economic injury disaster loans are available even if the business didn't sustain physical damages.
SBA representatives at all nine Tennessee disaster recovery centers are available to help individuals complete and submit loan applications and answer any questions.
Survivors may apply for SBA disaster loans before insurance claims are settled. The loans may be used to refinance existing mortgages on homes and businesses in certain cases. They may also be used to relocate on a case-by-case basis.
The SBA Disaster Customer Service Center toll-free number is 800-659-2955 or (TTY) 800-877-8339 for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Help is also available by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.sba.gov.
Loan applications can be completed online at SBA's website: disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
The deadline to complete and return applications is May 15, 2012.
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.