published Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Fill out those SBA forms to get disaster assistance

Employees for the Small Business Administration Disaster Reserve, sits at their desks Saturday at the FEMA recovery center located at Fire Dept. Station 7 on Discovery Dr. in Chattanooga. According to a FEMA employee at the site, only two people had been in to register by 2 p.m. on Satuday. Susan Solomon, a FEMA public information officer, said there are 9 FEMA recovery centers open in the Chattanooga area.
Employees for the Small Business Administration Disaster Reserve, sits at their desks Saturday at the FEMA recovery center located at Fire Dept. Station 7 on Discovery Dr. in Chattanooga. According to a FEMA employee at the site, only two people had been in to register by 2 p.m. on Satuday. Susan Solomon, a FEMA public information officer, said there are 9 FEMA recovery centers open in the Chattanooga area.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

How much can I get in disaster assistance?

  • Homeowners -- 1.875 percent loans of up to $200,000 for real estate, $40,000 for personal property

  • Businesses -- 4 percent loans of up to $2 million

  • Nonprofit organizations -- 3 percent loans of up to $2 million

Source: Small business organization

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Don't be scared if your disaster relief application says "Small Business Administration."

Homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofit organizations should fill out the forms if they receive them in the mail because, if they don't, they could lose access to all disaster assistance, said Tamara Jackson, a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

During disasters, the agency makes loans direct from the U.S. Treasury at low interest rates to help augment other disaster aid. Rates for home repairs are 1.875 percent, business loans are 4 percent and nonprofit organizations can receive loans at 3 percent, according to a news release.

"If you don't fill out the SBA application, assistance stops there," Jackson said.

If, on the other hand, applicants are turned down for a low-interest SBA loan, they may be referred back to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance, she said, which wouldn't otherwise happen.

Not everyone will receive an SBA application, but that doesn't mean a person won't receive assistance, Jackson said. Howeer, waiting too long to file for assistance could cause huge headaches.

Disaster assistance centers could be closing well before the application filing deadline for physical damage on May 15, and long before the deadline for economic injury filings on Dec. 17.

"Don't wait; we don't know how long those centers are going to be there," Jackson said.

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith at esmith@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6315.

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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