Disaster Assistance Deadline Looms Next Month

SALISBURY – The U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) is reminding citizens and business owners that assistance is available for those who have been affected by Superstorm Sandy.

SBA Public Affairs Specialist Karen Knapik attended both the Salisbury City Council and Wicomico County Council sessions to inform the public on SBA assistance for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

“In times of disaster, we are tasked with being the federal government’s source of long-term funding for communities,” Knapik said. “In partnership with FEMA, when there is a disaster and it hasn’t met FEMA’s criteria, we have our own individual criteria to come to areas and help provide assistance. This one is Hurricane Sandy.”

SBA is assisting seven counties in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia that have been affected by Hurricane Sandy. The counties are Accomack and North Hampton in Virginia, Sussex in Delaware and Somerset, Wicomico, Worcester and Dorchester in Maryland.

According to SBA, the administration offers low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, non-profit organizations to repair and replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster.

Renters and homeowners are able to borrow up to $40,000 but homeowners can apply for up to $200,000. Renters and homeowners are able to receive low interest loans at the rate of 1.68 percent.

For businesses and non-profits the SBA makes physical disaster loans up to $2 million with low interest loan rates from 3 to 4 percent. All loans have a repayment period of up to 30 years.

Knapik added that all loans do not have to be taken right away but can be put on hold status for up to six months giving the applicant the time to cover other issues, such as what will be available through their insurance.

“The object is to help people get their lives back to the way it was before the disaster, and with Hurricane Sandy we understand that there are lots of different types of effects,” she said.

Knapik pointed out when applying for assistance through FEMA applicants will also receive an application for SBA.

“What people need to realize is that if they do not complete that application they are preventing themselves for being eligible for additional monies that FEMA does not consider eligible for until they apply with us,” she said.

Knapik also assured those affected by Hurricane Sandy to be wary of taking on another loan.

“What we want people to understand is that they need to just consider that to apply for our process doesn’t cost you anything, it will just take a couple of minutes to fill out an application of about two pages, and there are no fees associated with our loans, there is no prepayment penalties,” she said.

The deadline for Wicomico County to apply with SBA for disaster assistance is Feb. 12. Residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process with FEMA at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA.

When there is a declared disaster, the SBA will have representatives at temporary centers in the disaster area. For center locations and hours of operation, visit www.sba.gov or call 1-800-659-2955.