Businesses, nonprofits, homeowners, and renters affected by recent hurricanes and storms in western Kentucky can get help from the federal government through the Small Business Administration.
The Small Business Administration has set up field operations in Western Kentucky to guide people through the application process for a low-interest disaster loan.
Mitzi Guhy, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of First United Methodist Church in Mayfield, came to the SBA Business Recovery Center in Benton.
A hurricane destroyed the church that was more than 100 years old. Guhy said it was baffling knowing what to do in the aftermath of the storms, especially since some of their records were destroyed in the hurricane and from the rain over subsequent days.
“We learn kind of quickly,” she said. “Obviously, none of us have gone through anything like this.”
With her internet and phone still intermittent, it was easier for Guhy to come to Benton and an SBA worker help her with an application.
She said they are looking for “any help that can come”.
“Obviously, with a church as old as us, it would be very difficult to replace the building materials,” Gui said. “It was a limestone church structure, with six large columns in the front… Rebuilding it as it was, would be very expensive. And although we had insurance, it wouldn’t come close to covering the complete loss.”
Low-interest disaster loans through the SBA are available for both physical damage and economic loss due to hurricanes.
- Businesses and nonprofits located in federally declared disaster areas can obtain loans of up to $2 million.
- Homeowners can get up to $200,000 to “repair or replace real estate,” and up to $40,000 for damaged personal property.
- Tenants are eligible for loans of up to $40,000 to help replace or repair personal property.
According to the Kentucky Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loans Fact Sheet, these long-term disaster loans can also be used for transition; The amount of these loans “depends on whether you move voluntarily or involuntarily.”
“So despite the fact that we are a Small Business Administration, we have a different function and mission during major disasters, to partner with FEMA, and to help disaster survivors recover from disasters in the long term,” SBA Public Information Officer Sally Graham said, who was on site in western Kentucky.
And she continued, “I met business owners who saw what they were dedicated to destroying.” “I’ve seen homeowners and renters think there is no hope and no way forward.”
She urged people not to question whether the quality or worry about document collection: “Disaster relief is available, and the fact that someone doesn’t have ID after a hurricane, shouldn’t stop them from coming forward.”
The Kentucky Disaster Loan Fact Sheet said applicants are required to have an “SBA-acceptable credit history,” but Graham doesn’t want to discourage people from applying.
“It’s a federal loan, so if someone doesn’t pay child support, it’s one thing, someone defaults on a student loan, but I’ll just say, apply,” she said.
The Small Business Administration has also been busy running a number of relief aid for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But Graham said the Small Business Administration’s disaster program has been around for a long time, and she’s not worried that the agency’s relief efforts will slow down processing of disaster loan applications.
Recovery can be difficult for businesses and nonprofits in the wake of a natural disaster like this.
Nearly 25% of businesses don’t survive a major disaster, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety.
Guhy hopes with the First United Methodist Church in Mayfield that they can rebuild.
“We’ll have to get all the insurance and then go through a long process,” Guhy said. “But we’ll be back. Mayfield will be back. And the churches in downtown Mayfield will be back in some form.”
The deadline for applying for loans for physical damage is February 10, 2022, and the deadline for economic loss due to hurricanes is September 12, 2022.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the Small Business Administration.