SBA ready to act after floods

The Concord office of the U.S. Small Business Administration is poised to assist victims of last weekend’s flooding in southwest New Hampshire — all that’s needed is word that the region has indeed been declared a disaster area by President Bush or the SBA Administrator Hector Barreto. That announcement is expected within days.

“I can’t imagine this won’t happen,” said Whitmer Jones, finance division chairman for the Concord SBA. “When it does, we’ll be working side-by-side with FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency).”

While thought of as an organization designed to assist only small businesses, the SBA does much more in the face of disaster, said Jones.

“Many people don’t realize it, but the SBA happens to have its own disaster operation division,” Jones said. “We’re the U.S. government agency that takes care of homeowners and small-business owners when disaster strikes.”

Pending formal announcement that Cheshire County and surrounding areas have been deemed disaster areas, SBA officials will begin the application process required for flood victims with little or no insurance to secure the financial assistance they need to rebuild their homes or businesses.

According to Jones, uninsured individuals can secure loans up to $200,000 for primary residences and $40,000 to replace or repair private property. Loan amounts for small businesses can be as high as $1.5 million. In both cases, however, loan amounts cannot exceed the verified uninsured disaster loss.

Maximum terms on SBA loans are 30 years. While interest rates will be kept low, it’s too early to know exactly what they will be.

With the damage assessment process still in its early stages, it is too early for Jones or other SBA officials to say how many loans they intend to distribute. – TRACIE STONE

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