U.S. Small Business Administration offering loans for tornado damages

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The January 9th storm that spawned several dangerous tornadoes caused a lot of damage, but not enough for FEMA to get involved.

People impacted by the tornadoes across the Panhandle are still recovering.

“We just woke up early and the warnings were going off and then as I was grabbing my six-year-old out of the bedroom, the loud freight train noise was coming by and with all the lightning, I just actually saw the tornado whip through my backyard,” Bay County resident Jade Bieniak said.

“You can ride down the road right now, it has not gone away and that’s because some folks simply had no insurance and have been unable to do even the cleanup,” Bay County Commissioner Clair Pease said.

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The U.S. Small Business Administration is now offering assistance to those impacted.

“For those homeowners, renters, and businesses who may have exhausted their insurance coverage or who maybe didn’t have any or who have maxed out their credit cards, we are here to provide federal funding in the form of low-interest loans payable over 30 years to cover those repairs,” U.S. Small Business Administration Public Information Officer Donika Farnham said.

Representatives will be in Bay and Jackson counties through April 16. In Bay County, the outreach center is located at the Bay County Public Library and will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Jackson County’s outreach center is at the Agriculture Center and will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

“Once the initial application is in there, there is some homework to be done by the applicant via the online portal that you will set up and that includes taking images or images that you may have of the damaged property and uploading them up to the system,” Farnham said.

Businesses and nonprofits can qualify for loans up to $2 million, homeowners needing to replace or repair real estate can receive up to $500,000, and loans up to $100,000 are available for personal property damages.

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“With the prices of everything everywhere going up so high and property taxes just skyrocketing, it’s hard, you need to try to hold onto your cash as much as possible to cover things so to have an opportunity for a loan or any assistance at all is really nice,” Bieniak said.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is also offering loans in Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Liberty, Walton, and Washington counties. Click here for more information and to learn how you can apply for loans in person or online.

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