Monday, May 23, 2011

FEMA: Throwing Away an SBA Application Is Like Throwing Away Money

One of the most important messages that state and federal officials would like to share with homeowners, renters and business owners in the Mississippi counties that are recovering from the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding of April, as well as the flooding of the Mississippi River and its tributaries in May, is fill out and return your U.S. Small Business Administration application. Don't throw it away!

After an applicant registers with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, they may receive a loan application package from the SBA. Typically, people may think that the loans are only for businesses, or they simply do not want to take out a low-interest disaster loan. So, they may push the SBA documents to the side or, possibly, discard them.

"This is where people tend to take themselves out of the process," said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Womack [pictured]. "If they don't complete the SBA paperwork, they could miss out on all the FEMA aid they may qualify for."

Applicants Should Know:
* Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair/replace real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair/replace personal property. Most interest rates for residents are below three percent, with terms as long as 30 years. Businesses and non-profit organizations of any size can borrow up to $2 million -- at an interest rate as low as four percent -- to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets, as well as to cover economic injury.

* Filling out the SBA application is a necessary step to be considered for some other forms of disaster assistance. Applicants may be eligible for more aid.

* If SBA is unable to approve a home loan, the applicant may be referred back to FEMA for some other disaster aid. Applicants may be awarded assistance for personal items, repair or replacement of a vehicle, etc.

Residents of 40 Counties Eligible to Register for Assistance
A major disaster declaration was approved by President Obama on May 11 for the Mississippi flooding that began May 3. Under this declaration, the following 14 counties are authorized to receive aid under FEMA's Individual Assistance Program: Adams, Bolivar, Claiborne, Coahoma, DeSoto, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Sharkey, Tunica, Warren, Washington, Wilkinson and Yazoo.

Under a previous disaster declaration, federal funding is also available to eligible individuals impacted by the April tornadoes and storms in these 29 counties: Alcorn, Attala, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Coahoma, DeSoto, Greene, Grenada, Hinds, Holmes, Jasper, Kemper, Lafayette, Leflore, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Neshoba, Newton, Panola, Quitman, Smith, Sunflower, Tishomingo, Tunica, Webster, and Winston.

As a result of the two declarations, residents in 40 Mississippi counties are eligible for Individual Assistance. Coahoma, DeSoto, and Tunica counties are eligible for Individual Assistance under both declarations.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the newly authorized counties, as well as those in counties previously authorized for Individual Assistance, can register by calling 800-621-FEMA [3362]; or, for those with speech or hearing impairment, TTY 800-462-7585. These toll-free telephone numbers will operate 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. seven days a week. Disaster survivors also can register by going online at, or on the Smartphone mobile website

SBA representatives at each DRC will assist in completing loan applications, accept loan applications, and answer questions about the application process.

Questions can also be answered by calling the SBA Disaster Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, or 800-877-8339 TTY for people with speech or hearing disabilities. The lines will operate Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m CDT.

Help also is available by sending an email to, or online at

Those affected by these disasters also can fill out a loan application by visiting SBA's secure website at

SOURCES: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency [file photo], U.S. Small Business Administration

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