Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

May 11, 2013

Feds start disaster loan process

Individuals and businesses can apply.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is making low-interest disaster loans available for flood victims in Grant, Howard and Tipton counties. State officials Friday released information on how to apply.

The loans will be made available to residents, businesses and nonprofit organizations both in the three counties and in neighboring counties including: Blackford, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Delaware, Hamilton, Huntington, Madison, Miami, Wabash and Wells.

This week, SBA officials said they are planning to open Disaster Center offices in Grant, Howard, Madison, and Tipton counties to handle any questions and to help residents apply for loans. The locations and hours for the centers have yet to be announced.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security is also planning to have staff at the centers to provide flood victims with information about the Indiana State Disaster Relief Fund. Grants of up to $5,000 may be available for Hoosiers who suffered flood damage but are not be eligible for a federal loan.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence made the decision to apply for the SBA low-interest disaster loans, but declined to ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a federal disaster declaration.

A disaster declaration would have brought grant assistance to the area, possibly in addition to the loan assistance that must be repaid.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokesman John Erickson said Thursday there wasn’t enough damage from this flood to qualify for a disaster declaration.

“The data made the decision for us,” Erickson said. “Based on historic information we have from FEMA on how we’ve fared in similar situations, we knew we didn’t have as much damage as we had in similar flood situations where we applied for FEMA assistance in the past five years and were turned down.”

Erickson said applying to FEMA, knowing the likelihood of being turned down, would have delayed the aid process needlessly.

“We recommended [not applying] to the governor’s office, and they concurred,” Erickson said.

Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault said, “Based on federal criteria, Indiana qualified for SBA low-interest disaster loans. Our timely application for the U.S. SBA loan program will allow Hoosiers to receive aid more quickly. In addition, the SBA program provides access to the State Disaster Relief Fund. Those who do not qualify for an SBA loan can apply for a grant of up to $5,000 per household from the State Disaster Relief Fund, one of only a few of its kind in the nation.”

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com.

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