Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 11, 2013

Feds start disaster loan process

Individuals and businesses can apply.

By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer

— 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.

How to apply for SBA loans

Disaster loan information can be found on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

Business loan applications can also be downloaded from the SBA website at www.sba.gov. Completed applications should be returned to a Disaster Loan Outreach Center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

Individuals and businesses can call the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities), 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Loan Amounts

Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Businesses and nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.

Those suffering damage to personal or business property must return applications by July 9. The deadline to return economic injury applications — which include, for example, payroll, working capital and other business financial commitments — is Feb. 10, 2014. For more information contact SBA.

State Disaster Relief Fund

The Indiana State Disaster Relief Fund was established in 2003 to provide assistance to individuals who may not be eligible for federal disaster assistance, but met the state’s criteria for disaster relief. Grants of up to $5,000 may be available to eligible disaster victims. Fees from retail fireworks sales provide funding for this program.

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