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Congressman Mike Thompson

Representing the 5th District of CALIFORNIA

Record-Bee: FEMA Funds, SBA loans available

Sep 28, 2015
News Articles
Record-Bee Staff Reports

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Individual Assistance and Public Assistance funds will be available to Lake County residents impacted by the Valley Fire, following this week’s presidential declaration.

To qualify for FEMA Individual Assistance funds, individuals must first register with FEMA. This can be done either by phone at 800-621-3362, online at www.disasterassistance.gov or through the m.fema.gov smartphone app.

Individual Assistance will help with temporary housing, replace or rebuild a home damaged by the fire or provide funds for homeowners to repair damage that is not covered by insurance.

“We strongly urge people to contact their insurance agency and FEMA,” said FEMA Eternal Affairs Specialist Steven Solomon.

Federal funds will not duplicate money provided under insurance coverage. But many policies are not comprehensive, leaving gaps in coverage.

“We will fill that need,” Solomon pointed out.

FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance program is also in operation. This provides help with expenses for items necessary for day to day living and serious needs including furniture, clothing, linens and kitchen utensils for the home, along with the costs incurred for vehicle repair or replacement.

As far as serious needs, this include medical and dental expenses and funeral costs directly related to the fire.

For Other Needs Assistance, residents must first apply for a loan from the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA).

SBA disaster loans are now available for Lake County residents to assist with recovery from damaged caused by the Valley Fire from Sept. 12 and continuing.

For SBA disaster loans, residents must first register with FEMA. This organization will then refer the case to the SBA.

“FEMA leads all activities,” SBA Public Information Officer Susheel Kumar explained. “We are in a supportive function.”

Once this step has been completed, residents can apply for low interest SBA loans by phone at 800-659-2955, online at www.sba.gov/disasterloans or in person at a Disaster Recovery Center. The federal government is in the process of putting these centers in place.

“We will talk about the extent of the loss,” Kumar said. “If the person has paid bills on time, most probably they will qualify.”

The absence of collateral is not necessarily an issue, he added.

SBA provides low-interest loans in several categories.

Home Disaster Loans help homeowners or renters repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or personal property. Renters are eligible for their personal property losses, including vehicles.

Business Physical Disaster Loans help businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property owned by the business, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Businesses of any size are eligible. Private, non-profit organizations such as charities and churches are also eligible.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.

This acts essentially a “business interuption” aid, allowing small business owners to cover bills.

“This is meant for folks to continue on with their lives while they repair and recover,” Kumar pointed out.

EIDL assistance is available only to entities and their owners who cannot provide for their own recovery from non-government sources, as determined by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The filing deadline for physical damage is Nov. 23, 2015. For EIDL it is June 22, 2016.

If approved, a loss verification expert will inspect the property. This will occur within three to four days of approval.

After a decision is rendered, funding will be available within 21 days.

“We’re very quick about it,” Kumar said.

Those approved for SBA loans have six months from approval to take advantage of the load. No fees are incurred during this period.

The interest rates applicable for this disaster are 1.875 percent for homeowners with no credit available elsewhere, 2.625 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with no credit available elsewhere.

Loan limits are $200,000 toward the repair or replacement of real estate, $40,000 toward personal property. The law limits business loands to $2 million.

The actual amount of each EIDL is limited to the economic injury determined by SBA, less business interruption insurance and other recoveries up to the administrative lending limit.

The law authorizes loan terms up to a maximum of 30 years. However, the law restricts businesses with credit available elsewhere to a maximum 7-year term. SBA sets the installment payment amount and corresponding maturity based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

Only uninsured losses are eligible. Secondary homes, pleasure boats, recreational vehicles and similar properties are not eligible. Property such as antiques and collections are eligible only to the extent of their functional value.

Amounts for landscaping, swimming pools and so on are limited.

If your loan application is approved, you may be eligible for additional funds to cover the cost of improvements that will protect your property against future damage. Mitigation loan money would be in addition to the amount of the approved loan, but may not exceed 20 percent of total amount of physical loss.

In some cases, refinancing of existing loans is possible. Those approved may use SBA disaster loan to relocate. The amount of the relocation loan depends on whether you relocate voluntarily or involuntarily.

“There are specific criteria for relocation assistance,” Kumar said.

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson on Thursday announced Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance funds will be available to Lake County. This is funding for local communities to use for emergency protective measures. Emergency protective measures include all activities that are undertaken by a community before, during, and following a disaster that are necessary to eliminate or reduce an immediate threat to life, public health, or safety. Examples of eligible activities include the establishment of temporary shelters and community service facilities, critical power generation, demolition of unsafe buildings, and the operation of emergency communications systems.

“The federal response to the Valley Fire has been nothing short of spectacular,” said Thompson. “Working with FEMA and other federal agencies we have been able to rapidly secure funds to help suppress the fire, repair our towns, reopen businesses and rebuild people’s homes. We face a long and hard road back, but this assistance will help make sure we fully recover.”

Hazard Mitigation (HM) Funds have also made available. These funds provide assistance to the state for actions taken to prevent or reduce long term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

FEMA previously approved the State of California’s request for a Fire Management Assistance Grant declaration for the Valley Fire. The Fire Management Assistance Grant Program (FMAGP) allows for the “mitigation, management, and control” of fires burning on publicly or privately owned forest or grasslands which threaten such destruction as would constitute a major disaster.

The FEMA grant will cover 75 percent of the costs for various fire suppression, safety and recovery needs.