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SBA Disaster Loans Available to Residents, Businesses Hit by Tomas

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Thursday it has declared St. Croix a major disaster area as a result of Tropical Storm Tomas, making low-interest disaster loans available to homeowners, renters and businesses.

Tomas combined with a cold front as it passed through the virgin Islands, producing heavy downpours from Nov. 8 – 12, causing floodwater damage to roads, bridges, public facilities and homes.

The SBA will open a Disaster Loan Outreach Center in Frederiksted. The location of the center will make it convenient for those affected by Tropical Storm Tomas to apply for disaster loan assistance.

“Residents and businesses affected by Tropical Storm Tomas, which struck the island of St. Croix from Nov. 8 – 12, 2010, can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration,” SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills said in announcing the news Thursday.

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“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of St. Croix with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist homeowners, renters, and businesses of all sizes with federal disaster loans. Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

Mills made the loans available in response to a letter from Gov. John de Jongh Jr., Monday requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA to assist individuals and families and businesses hit hard by the flooding, mud and landslides. The declaration covers only the island of St. Croix, the SBA said in its announcement.

In the aftermath of flooding associated with Tomas, deJongh wrote to President Barack Obama requesting that St. Croix be declared a major disaster and that he make federal aid available to the local government to supplement the recovery efforts and to residents who suffered damages in November’s deluge. Obama made that declaration on Nov. 24, declared St. Croix a major disaster, promising federal aid through the Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant programs to local government agencies and certain non-profit organizations to make repairs and to mitigate further damages and risks to life and
property.

However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied the application for Individual Assistance, citing the fact most families were not displaced as a result of the flooding. That denial by the emergency management agency was actually a necessary step for deJongh to request an SBA declaration triggering disaster assistance to residents and businesses.

“While we requested Individual Assistance from FEMA but did not meet the pre-established damage and loss threshold to qualify for such assistance, I am optimistic that the SBA declaration will make assistance available to those homeowners and business operators who suffered significant loss during the heavy rains and flooding associated with Tropical Storm Tomas,” de Jongh said.

Loans for as much as $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans of as much as $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses and non-profit organizations of any size can borrow as much as $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

For small businesses and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Interest rates are as low as 2.25 percent for homeowners and renters, three percent for non-profit organizations and four percent for businesses with terms as long as 30 years. The SBA sets loan amounts and terms based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Also, the SBA can increase a loan as much as 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements, as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind.

The SBA’s Disaster Loan Outreach Center is in the Economic Development Authority Building, No. 116 King St., Frederiksted. It opened Friday and except for Sunday will remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Wednesday.

Individuals and businesses can obtain information on loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955, 1-800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Business loan applications can also be downloaded from the SBA website. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

Those affected by the disaster can apply for disaster loans from SBA’s secure website.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Feb. 14. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Sept. 15.

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The U.S. Small Business Administration announced Thursday it has declared St. Croix a major disaster area as a result of Tropical Storm Tomas, making low-interest disaster loans available to homeowners, renters and businesses.

Tomas combined with a cold front as it passed through the virgin Islands, producing heavy downpours from Nov. 8 – 12, causing floodwater damage to roads, bridges, public facilities and homes.

The SBA will open a Disaster Loan Outreach Center in Frederiksted. The location of the center will make it convenient for those affected by Tropical Storm Tomas to apply for disaster loan assistance.

“Residents and businesses affected by Tropical Storm Tomas, which struck the island of St. Croix from Nov. 8 - 12, 2010, can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration,” SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills said in announcing the news Thursday.

“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of St. Croix with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist homeowners, renters, and businesses of all sizes with federal disaster loans. Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

Mills made the loans available in response to a letter from Gov. John de Jongh Jr., Monday requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA to assist individuals and families and businesses hit hard by the flooding, mud and landslides. The declaration covers only the island of St. Croix, the SBA said in its announcement.

In the aftermath of flooding associated with Tomas, deJongh wrote to President Barack Obama requesting that St. Croix be declared a major disaster and that he make federal aid available to the local government to supplement the recovery efforts and to residents who suffered damages in November’s deluge. Obama made that declaration on Nov. 24, declared St. Croix a major disaster, promising federal aid through the Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant programs to local government agencies and certain non-profit organizations to make repairs and to mitigate further damages and risks to life and
property.

However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied the application for Individual Assistance, citing the fact most families were not displaced as a result of the flooding. That denial by the emergency management agency was actually a necessary step for deJongh to request an SBA declaration triggering disaster assistance to residents and businesses.

“While we requested Individual Assistance from FEMA but did not meet the pre-established damage and loss threshold to qualify for such assistance, I am optimistic that the SBA declaration will make assistance available to those homeowners and business operators who suffered significant loss during the heavy rains and flooding associated with Tropical Storm Tomas,” de Jongh said.

Loans for as much as $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans of as much as $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses and non-profit organizations of any size can borrow as much as $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

For small businesses and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Interest rates are as low as 2.25 percent for homeowners and renters, three percent for non-profit organizations and four percent for businesses with terms as long as 30 years. The SBA sets loan amounts and terms based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Also, the SBA can increase a loan as much as 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements, as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind.

The SBA’s Disaster Loan Outreach Center is in the Economic Development Authority Building, No. 116 King St., Frederiksted. It opened Friday and except for Sunday will remain open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Wednesday.

Individuals and businesses can obtain information on loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955, 1-800-877-8339 for people with speech or hearing disabilities, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Business loan applications can also be downloaded from the SBA website. Completed applications should be mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

Those affected by the disaster can apply for disaster loans from SBA’s secure website.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Feb. 14. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Sept. 15.