Most midstate flood victims have been turning to FEMA and the American Red Cross for help, but there is another agency that is offering aid. The Small Business Administration has been providing homeowners with loans after disasters since 1953, and serves as FEMA's so-called “right hand man” in disaster relief.
“A lot of people when they register with FEMA are referred to the SBA and they'll receive an application in the mail,” Cynthia Cowell, Small Business Administration, Office of Disaster Assistance said. “And they look at the application and they say, 'I'm not a small business,' and into the bin it goes.”
Cowell wants people to know the SBA doesn't just help businesses.
“If you've been told by FEMA that you need to go to SBA, please do, even if you're not a business, we do help homeowners and renters,” said Cowell.
The SBA can loan homeowners up to $200,000 for repairs or to relocate, and up to $40,000 for renters. And they are understanding about credit problems.
“We understand that people have hiccups because of the storm,” she said. “A lot of people have been running up their credit cards and a lot of people haven't been able to pay their bills simply because of the storm. We really try hard to make sure that person who can pay back a loan, can get a loan.”
SBA home loans begin at 2.5 percent. If you're concerned about taking on another bill in this economy, they can also help you refinance your mortgage at that low rate.
Cowell said the first thing flood victims need to do is register with FEMA and file an insurance claim. They can then file their SBA application. If you have spent money out of pocket, be sure to save receipts and take pictures as you go.
Cowell said with the November 14 deadline looming, flood victims need to get their paperwork done soon.
“It's a good idea to get your applications in,” Cowell said. “Even if you don't want a loan, go ahead and turn your application in. If you don't qualify, we can refer you back to FEMA for other needs assistance.”
Flood victims can apply online at www.sba.gov or call the customer service line at 1-800-659-2955. If you would like to talk to someone in person, you can still go to one of the disaster recovery centers in Harrisburg, Lebanon, or York.