CHARLESTON – Sept. 7 is the deadline to submit applications for disaster loans through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for the West Virginia floods that occurred June 22-29.
Loans are directed through FEMA to the SBA, which is working in conjunction with FEMA for disaster relief efforts.
“In terms of assistance for businesses for help from the federal government, that happens from low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration,” Jim Homstad, media relations manager and spokesperson at FEMA, told The West Virginia Record. “The U.S. Small Business Administration is our federal partner. FEMA does grants which don’t have to be paid back and the Small Business Administration does the low-interest disaster loans. That’s the difference. We work together to assist in disaster recovery.”
The interest rates for the loans through the SBA are as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organization and 1.625 percent for homeowners and renters. Loan terms are up to 30 years with allowable amounts totaling up to $2 million for repairs or to replace damaged or destroyed property.
“They approved in West Virginia, corresponding to this flooding disaster, 728 loans for $47.4 million,” said Homstad. “Don’t let their title fool you, even though it’s the U.S. Small Business Administration, in a disaster they lend money to not only businesses of all sizes but also homeowners and renters as well."
To be considered for a loan with the SBA, applicants must register with FEMA online at www.disasterassistance.gov or with a mobile device at m.fema.gov. Applicants can also call FEMA’s helpline at 800-621-3362 if they don’t have online or mobile access.
“You don’t have to accept the loan,” said Homstad. “We encourage people to apply for the small business loan. You don’t have to accept it, and on the other hand you may not qualify for it, but if you don’t fill out the application your federal assistance very well might grind to a halt at that point. We always encourage people to fill it out, and if for any reason you don’t qualify for the loan, hypothetically you would be kicked back, if you will, to FEMA for further grant consideration.”
Twelve counties within West Virginia have been approved for assistance in the disaster declaration that President Obama signed for the state. The counties are Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers, and Webster.
The Sept. 7 deadline is an extension from the original deadline, which was requested by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, as he said there was a continued flow of applications coming in to receive federal assistance in connection with the West Virginia flooding.
Loans from the SBA allow eligible applicants to borrow additional funds to cover the costs associated with protecting their property against future damage. This includes elevating utilities, water heaters and furnaces, and installing retaining walls and sump pumps.