WisBusiness: SBA offers aid for state tornado victims

By Gregg Hoffmann

VIOLA – Vernon County and officials of this small village were among those applauding action by the Small Business Administration that makes aid available for victims of last August’s tornadoes.

The SBA announced that the counties of Dane and Richland and the contiguous counties of Columbia, Crawford, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Rock, Sauk, and Vernon have been declared a disaster area as a result of the tornadoes that occurred on August 18, 2005

“As a result of this declaration, low-interest loans are available to renters, homeowners, businesses and non-profit organizations that sustained damages from the tornadoes,” said Frank Skaggs, Director of SBA Field Operations Center – East. “If you had any damage as result of the August 18, 2005 tornadoes, you are eligible to apply for this help.”

FEMA declined to declare the counties and municipalities disaster areas last year, thus making them turn to the state for aid and raise funds themselves. Viola officials were outspoken in their outrage (see another story from WisBusiness.com).

To assist disaster victims, SBA is opening two temporary Disaster Outreach Centers in Dane and Richland Counties. The Dane County location is the Stoughton Area Senior Center, 248 West Main Street in Stoughton. The Richland County Center is located in the Community Building, 118 West Commercial Street in Viola.

The Centers will open Tuesday, January 10th at noon and will remain open Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., until further notice. The Disaster Outreach Centers will be open one Saturday only, January 14th from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

SBA offers loans up to $40,000 for renters and homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged personal property such as furniture and clothing. Homeowners are eligible for loans up to $200,000 to repair disaster damaged primary residences. Loans to businesses of all sizes and non-profit organizations are available up to $1.5 million to repair damage to real estate, machinery, equipment and inventory. Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) are also available to small businesses unable to pay bills or meet operating expenses.

Interest rates are as low as 2.687 percent for renters and homeowners and 4.000 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based upon each applicant’s financial condition.

“We want everyone who had damages caused by the tornadoes to come in and personally meet with an SBA Representative. Our Representatives will be glad to answer any questions about the disaster loan program, give you a disaster loan application, and provide any extra help you may need or want with completing the application,” Skaggs said.

Anyone unable to visit the Disaster Outreach Centers may obtain applications by calling the SBA Disaster Assistance National Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (for the hearing-impaired 1-800-877-8339). Applications may be obtained, completed and returned to the Disaster Outreach Centers or mailed to: U. S. Small Business Administration, National Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, Texas 76155.

The deadline for physical damage applications is March 6, 2006; the deadline for economic injury applications is October 5, 2006.