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Two Steps To Disaster Assistance: FEMA And SBA

Release date: 
March 7, 2013
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PURVIS, Miss. – The U.S. Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency work together in assisting disaster survivors. Registering for federal assistance and completing the SBA application are two steps toward one goal: to help those rebuilding their lives after a disaster.

FEMA grants may cover essential needs including personal items such as clothing and vehicles. These grants do not make disaster survivors whole again.

The SBA is a primary source of federal funds for recovery for both individuals and businesses; filling out the SBA loan application is necessary for most homeowners and renters to be considered for all forms of disaster assistance.

The SBA's low-interest disaster loans of up to $200,000 can help qualified homeowners repair or replace damaged real estate. In addition, renters and homeowners may get up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged personal property. In both cases, these SBA loans are only for damages not covered by your insurance. Loans may be increased up to 20 percent of verified losses to cover the cost of measures to prevent possible damages from a future natural or man-made hazard.

Though FEMA and the SBA work hand in hand with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and local governments to help disaster survivors, many Mississippians affected by the recent tornadoes, storms and flooding who were sent an SBA application have not completed and returned them. The process begins with FEMA;  it continues with the SBA.

The reasons Mississippi disaster survivors find for not applying for a low-interest disaster loan are the very reasons they should apply – on or before the April 15 deadline.

Oh I’m not eligible and I don’t own a business.

SBA disaster loans also go to individuals and families – as well as businesses. Interest rates may be as low as 1.688 percent with terms up to 30 years.

I don’t want a loan or can’t qualify for one.

Filing the loan application does not obligate you to accept the loan, but most individual and family applicants must still complete the SBA loan application before they can be considered for certain other FEMA grants and programs. That could include assistance for disaster-related medical and dental expenses, car repairs, clothing and household items. Completing the SBA application assures that the federal disaster recovery process continues and keeps your options open.

It’s just too much trouble to fill out an application.

It only takes about 30 minutes to fill out a loan application. You also can receive one-on-one assistance at a Disaster Recovery Center.  A simple, fast, and very available way to complete the application is online, using the SBA's electronic loan application. Go to Updates on loan application status are available by calling 800-659-2955 or TTY 800-877-8339.

But I’m a renter not a homeowner.

Renters can get help from the SBA. They may qualify for long-term, low-interest loans to repair or replace personal property items, such as clothing, furniture, cars, or appliances damaged or destroyed in the disaster.

I’m going to wait for my insurance settlement.

Don’t wait to settle with the insurance company. If you do not know how much of your loss will be covered by insurance or other sources, SBA will consider making a loan for the total loss up to its loan limits, provided you agree to use insurance proceeds to reduce or repay your SBA loan.

I own the property but it’s not my primary residence.

If your property is used as a normal part of a business, such as rental property, you may be eligible to apply as a business owner. Submit your application and let SBA determine your eligibility.

Our neighbors were turned down for an SBA loan and they make more than we do.

Don’t make the mistake of eliminating yourself.  Everyone’s situation is unique and SBA will work with you if you feel you may have a problem qualifying for the loan.  Remember, if a homeowner or renter cannot qualify for the SBA loan, they will be referred back to FEMA for additional grant consideration.

Eligibility for a loan depends on your ability to repay the loan, not on your income. If you qualify for a loan, the amount could be significantly higher than FEMA grants. If you do not qualify for a loan, you may be referred back to FEMA for additional grants.

If you have questions about the disaster assistance process, call the FEMA Helpline, 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. or, with a tablet or smartphone, or other web-enabled device, go to Wireless customers can reach the helpline by dialing #362.

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.

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 800-462-7585.

FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.


Last Updated: 
March 7, 2013 - 10:33
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