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FEMA And SBA Disaster Assistance Applications Up But Still Lagging Ahead Of Deadline

FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration are urging people affected by the tornadoes to apply for financial help.
Jess Mador
FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration are urging people affected by the tornadoes to apply for financial help.

The deadline for tornado survivors to apply for disaster assistance through FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration is just weeks away on Aug. 19. Miami Valley officials are urging anyone in need to apply, even if they’re still waiting to hear about an insurance claim.

So far, FEMA reports more than 4,000 people have sought help across the Ohio counties affected by the Memorial Day storms.

Agency numbers show more than 1,700 people have visited a Dayton-area disaster recovery center for help, and more than three-quarters of FEMA assistance applications have come from Montgomery County.

But, officials say these numbers do not reflect the need, and that many tornado survivors have yet to come forward.

FEMA spokesperson Erin Gaddis says homeowners, renters and business owners are eligible for cash grants. Displaced renters could also receive up to 18 months of rent payments.

“We want to encourage people to just get their application in, whether they are insured, underinsured, not insured at all. The state of Ohio has some specific programs as well that'll assist where maybe SBA or FEMA can’t,” she says.  

The SBA is offering special low-interest disaster loans for people in the tornado area.

Disaster loans of up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property.
Interest rates are as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.75 percent for nonprofit organizations and 1.938 percent for homeowners and renters, for loans with terms up to 30 years.  

The agency has so far approved more than $5 million in loans across Montgomery, Greene and Mercer counties.

Governor Mike DeWine’s recent request for additional federal disaster aid to help reimburse counties for cleanup expenses is still pending. 

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via the SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or download the FEMA mobile app.

If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362.

SBA officials are also offering Miami Valley businesses free assistance with reconstructing financial records, preparing financial statements and submitting the loan application from any of SBA’s partner groups: Small Business Development Centers, SCORE, Women’s Business Centers, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. 

Jess Mador comes to WYSO from Knoxville NPR-station WUOT, where she created an interactive multimedia health storytelling project called TruckBeat, one of 15 projects around the country participating in AIR's Localore: #Finding America initiative. Before TruckBeat, Jess was an independent public radio journalist based in Minneapolis. She’s also worked as a staff reporter and producer at Minnesota Public Radio in the Twin Cities, and produced audio, video and web stories for a variety of other news outlets, including NPR News, APM, and PBS television stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. She loves making documentaries and telling stories at the intersection of journalism, digital and social media.