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Disaster declaration now covers 13 counties

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Kinfay Moroti
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Special to WGCU
A picture of Jesus Christ and Powerade were among the items Jose Luis recovered from his mobile home on Pine Island on Friday (9/30/22). Hurricane Ian devastated much of Pine Island and the areas of Bokeelia, St. James City and Matlacha. People in these areas are unable to leave by vehicle due to damage to Pine Island Road and Matlacha Bridge by Hurricane Ian.

Several Florida counties were added Saturday to the disaster declaration for Hurricane Ian that began Sept. 23, enabling more Florida businesses and residents to be eligible to apply for the Small Business Administration’s low-interest disaster loan program.

The disaster declaration now covers Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Seminole counties in Florida, which are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA. Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs): Brevard, Broward, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Indian River, Lake, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Pasco, Sumter and Volusia in Florida.

“In a major disaster like this, FEMA offers homeowners and renters disaster grants, and SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and non-profit organizations,” said Julie Garrett of the SBA.

In many cases, FEMA refers survivors to SBA as part of the FEMA process, Garrett said. People who are told to apply for disaster loans should, in order to continue moving through the FEMA process, even if they think they cannot afford loans. It is free to apply, and people are under no obligation to accept a loan.

SBA refers applicants back to FEMA for potential additional grant consideration if they do not qualify for a loan.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property.

Building back smarter and stronger can be an effective recovery tool for future disasters. Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase of up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA, for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, elevation, retaining walls, and landscaping to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

Interest rates are as low as 3.04 for businesses, 1.875 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 2.188 percent for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/ and should apply under SBA declaration # 17644.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or download the FEMA mobile app. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.

Disaster loan information and application forms can also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services) or sending an email to DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded from sba.gov/disaster . Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 28, 2022. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 29, 2023.

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