FEMA and the SBA have set up a disaster recovery center at Dover Town Hall (on Dover Common) to assist local residents and business owners with applications for federal recovery grants and loans. The disaster recovery center will be open seven days a week, from 8 am to 6 pm, at least as long as local demand for information warrants it. The site is accessible by MOOver.
According to FEMA Public Information Officer Denise Worhach and SBA Public Information Officer Garth MacDonald, there are grants and low interest loans available. FEMA provides grants of up to $30,200 for damage to primary residences that isn’t covered by insurance, in addition to their reimbursement program for municipalities that pays up to 75% of disaster-related cleanup and repair work.
“FEMA is going to pay a lot for infrastructure, reimbursing towns for repairs and debris removal. And in this disaster, we also have individual assistance,” Worhach said.
Worhach says everyone who was affected by the storm should register with FEMA at (800) 621-3362, or online at www.disasterassistance.gov. Information needed to have on hand when filling out the 15-minute application includes Social Security numbers, insurance information, bank account numbers (for direct deposit) and tax information. Worhach says that calling 211 to report damage does not register individuals with FEMA. “I’m so impressed with Vermonters, they’re a hardy bunch,” she says. “They downplay their damages and don’t want to apply for aid because they don’t want to take away from others. But we want everyone to get as much help as possible.”
Worhach says there is already $5.7 million in aid approved in Vermont, most of which is for housing needs. “People who are eligible won’t get just one check from FEMA,” she said.
While FEMA doesn’t offer assistance to businesses, the SBA offers assistance not only to businesses, but to individuals as well. The SBA’s assistance includes a variety of loans. For homeowners, there is a low-interest loan of up to $200,000 at an interest rate of 2.5%. For renters, the limit is $40,000. And, says MacDonald, there are no fees. For businesses, the SBA offers loans for both physical damage and economic loss, both at an interest rate of about four percent or three percent for some qualifying nonprofits. Businesses may borrow up to $2 million in any combination of damage or economic loss loans. MacDonald notes that the losses covered under the various programs include damage that may occur after the initial storm and flood. “It’s not just for the two days of Irene,” he says. “It’s until the incident is closed. At some point there will be a declaration that the incident is closed, and the damage you claim has to be between those dates.”
The deadline for applying for FEMA grants and most SBA loans is October 31, 2011. The deadline for filing applications for economic loss is June 1, 2012. Apply for SBA loan programs at https://disasterloan.sba.gove/ela or apply in person at any disaster recovery center.
In addition to federal programs, there are a number of state recovery programs available. The Vermont Economic Development Agency has up to $10 million available in a special loan program for businesses and farms affected by Tropical Storm Irene. The maximum loan amount is $100,000 and the terms include no payback during the first year, and only one percent interest during the first two years. At the beginning of the third year, the interest rate will adjust to VEDA’s regular small business loan variable rate. Call (802) 828-5627 or visit www.veda.org