2012-12-07 / Top Stories

Meeks Joins FEMA, SBA At Disaster Forum

By Miriam Rosenberg

The Small Business Administration is not just for small business anymore.

Rather, the agency has become a safety net that helps many locals get back on their feet after a disaster such as the one caused by Superstorm Sandy.

At an informational forum at Challenge Preparatory Academy in Far Rockaway on November 2, representatives of FEMA, the SBA and the city’s Rapid Repairs program were joined by Congressman Gregory Meeks to speak about the various help available to those affected by Superstorm Sandy.

“When a disaster is declared, SBA is the primary source of federal assistance for owners of private property, which would be homeowners, renters, businesses of any size, as well as most private nonprofit organizations,” said SBA spokesman Mark Randle, who outlined what his agency has to offer those who are suffering because of Sandy.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses and private non-profit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. In addition small businesses and most private non-profit organizations of all sizes can be eligible for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.

Interest rates are as low as 1.688 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years.

We have approved over than $73 million in New York for this disaster. Of that, $67 million, at this time, have been for homeowners and renters,” said Randle.

“Do not wait for the insurance,” said Randle. “Start the process today.”

Those seeking SBA loans must register with FEMA. They then can apply online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/, come into any of the Recovery Centers, call the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by send an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@ sba.gov.

Kathryn Mallon from the Rapid Repairs program explained that their focus is on helping people get heat, power and hot water and being able to shelter in place. To sign up for Rapid Repairs call 311, go to nyc.gov or go to a Recovery Center. Within a few days of signing up a contractor will come to access the work needed in your home. If you own a single or two-family home, you must have a FEMA number. Through NYC Rapid Repairs and in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the City coordinates assessments and repair work so that they happen more quickly and efficiently. There is no cost to anyone who signs up.

Congressman Meeks talked about what is happening in Washington to help storm victims. Meeks explained that as the 112th Congress draws to a close this month he is looking to get emergency appropriations passed “so we can expedite things to keep things moving forward.” Starting with the new Congressional session in January Meeks then wants to “work to make sure that we get [monies for] jetties and sand dunes and protection on both sides, on the bay side as well as the ocean side. We need to get those things that are necessary to make sure that we don’t ever have this kind of devastating damage again.”

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