Agencies offering aid following disaster declaration
Two days after opening a recovery center in Litchfield, staff were still waiting for their first visit from someone affected by Hurricane Ian.
It’s hard to compete with Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, said Lilian Tschanett, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
But for businesses, nonprofits and individuals who suffered damage when the Category 1 storm made landfall Sept. 30 on North Island, the agency’s programs could be the holiday bargain they need.
The Business Recovery Center opened Monday in Litchfield Exchange, a week after the presidential disaster declaration for Ian. The Federal Emergency Management Agency opened a Disaster Recovery Center on Friday in the Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center in Parkersville.
The first place for people to start is with their insurance.
“By law, you can’t duplicate benefits,” said Nikki Gaskins, a media relations specialist with FEMA.
The FEMA programs are intended to aid the uninsured and the underinsured.
“It’s grant money. You don’t have to pay it back,” Gaskins said. But she added, “it’s not going to make you whole.”
The SBA loan program is intended to do that. Despite the agency’s name, the loans are available to homeowners and renters.
“We encourage people to go through the program with SBA,” Gaskins said. “They could be leaving money on the table if they don’t apply to SBA.”
Loans to businesses and nonprofits can be up to $2 million. They are available both for physical losses and for economic injury.
People became familiar with the economic injury program during the pandemic, Tschanett said.
For homeowners, the loan limit is $200,000.
In addition, SBA provides 20 percent of the loan amount to be used for anything that will mitigate damage from future disasters.
The business program is also available to second-home owners who rent their property as a business, Tschanett said.
“A lot of beach property owners apply for loans,” she said.
The SBA center in Litchfield is open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The deadline to apply for loans to repair damage is Jan. 20. The deadline to apply for economic injury loans is Aug. 21, 2023. The additional time for those loans allows businesses to complete their tax filings.
The FEMA center at the rec center is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.
Update: This story was updated from the print edition to include the opening of the FEMA center.