New help: SBA aid granted for those affected by flooding

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Homes in Franklin Township after rubble was cleared away following flash flooding.

HOUGHTON COUNTY — Flood-impacted businesses, residents, renters and non-profits will be able to apply for low-interest loans through the Small Business Association (SBA) starting today.

The loans come after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied individual assistance to impacted counties, prompting Gov. Rick Snyder to request a physical and economic disaster declaration from the SBA. The declaration was granted not just for Houghton County but Baraga, Iron, Keweenaw and Ontonagon as well.

The SBA will operate an outreach center based in Franklin Township, one of the harder-hit areas, where individual assistance will be available through loan applications. Mail and online applications options will also be available.

The physical property damage application deadline is Nov. 6, 2018, and the economic injury applications will be available until June 7, 2019.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations will be able to borrow up to $2 million, said SBA’s Michigan District Director Constance Logan in a release.

For homeowners, loans go up to $200,000 to “repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate.”

Both homeowners and renters can apply for loans up to $40,000 for personal property damage, added Kem Fleming, center director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta, Georgia, in a release.

Some applicants may be eligible for a 20 percent physical damage loan increase for mitigation.

Interest rates and loan amounts are based on each applicant’s financial condition but have a minimum of 3.61 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for nonprofits and 1.938 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.

Those interested in assistance can go to 49850 Hwy. US 41 Hancock MI 49930, starting today at 11 a.m. The center will operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and will be closed Sunday. The on-site location will be open until Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 4 p.m.

Online applications are available at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.

“I’m hoping this is a breath of fresh air for our residents here to get that ball rolling,” said Franklin Township Supervisor Mary Sears.

As of Monday, she was already in contact with SBA representatives setting up the on-site assistance. She worries some residents won’t be able to take loans but expects some will be able to take advantage of the additional aid.

“It will be good for some and not useful for others,” she said.

“I want to thank the SBA for making disaster assistance available to the individuals and businesses affected by the severe flooding,” Snyder said in a statement. “Getting our communities and businesses back on their feet is essential. The availability of these loans will bring some relief as they work to recover and rebuild.”

The SBA program was designed by Congress to aid with community recovery after a disaster and the primary source of federal funds for long-term recovery assistance, explained Kathy Cook, SBA public affairs specialist out of Atlanta.

The SBA typically is contacted with smaller events FEMA does not assist with.

An SBA physical disaster declaration requires a minimum of physical damage to at least 25 homes or businesses including machinery, equipment and inventory with an uninsured loss of 40 percent or more.

Nearby counties are automatically included in an SBA physical declaration. With the assumption being nearby counties may have also experienced similar disaster damages, said Cook.

“Consequently, businesses of all sizes, nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters in all the named counties are eligible,” she said, “to apply for low-interest disaster loans for their repair or replacement needs.”

Even for those without physical damage to businesses or nonprofits, loans are available to cover “economic injury” for issues with payroll, fixed debts and other areas the disaster impacted the payment of.

“We encourage business owners and residents to visit the temporary Disaster Loan Outreach Centers and take advantage of meeting with a Customer Service Representative to get answers to questions and help in submitting an SBA disaster loan application. There is no cost to apply or obligation to take the loan if it is offered,” Cook said.

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