Janesville56.2°

Janesville flood center closes

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Kayla Bunge
August 16, 2008
— Hundreds of people have come through the doors of New Life Assembly of God Church, 2416 N. Wright Road, seeking flood relief since July 7, when the church opened as a flood recovery center.

The center, which since Aug. 4 has been exclusively a disaster loan center, closed Friday.


Staff at the center said the people in Rock County were hit hard by the Rock River flooding, and the services of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) were desperately needed.


“I talked to very few people who had minimal damage,” said Geri Roberts, a representative of the SBA who staffed the center on its last day. “(The flooding) really affected a lot of people. It just kind of wiped them out.”


The center served as a place where people could get information about receiving federal aid and long-term, low-interest home and business loans. The center also provided information about cleaning up and rebuilding.


FEMA reported that almost 400 homeowners in Rock County have qualified for nearly $1 million in federal aid to repair damage from storms and floods.


The SBA reported as of Thursday that it approved almost 50 loans for homeowners and businesses in Rock County totaling almost $2 million.


“We will no doubt be higher than these figures when it’s all over,” said Tom Nocera, spokesman for the SBA Office of Disaster Assistance.


While the center closed Friday, homeowners and businesses still have time to apply for loans. The application deadline is Sept. 15.


Three types of loans are available:


? Home disaster loans for homeowners or renters to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or personal property.


? Business disaster loans for businesses or non-profit organizations to repair or replace disaster-damaged property, including real estate, machinery, equipment, inventories and supplies.


? Economic injury disaster loans are working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and non-profit organizations meet financial obligations that cannot be met as a result of the disaster.


Nocera said qualified homeowners can receive up to $200,000, qualified renters can receive up to $40,000 and qualified businesses and non-profit organizations can receive up to $2 million. Interest rates are as low as 2.687 percent for homeowners and 4 percent for businesses and non-profit organizations, he said.


The loans are intended to cover losses that insurance does not, Nocera said.


“We don’t double reimburse,” he said. “If it’s covered by insurance already, we can’t duplicate what insurance has already paid for.”


Homeowners or businesses that are denied a loan are referred back to FEMA for possible grant assistance, Nocera said.


“There’s no doubt there’s been a lot of people who aren’t able to afford any additional debt or don’t have the means to repay a loan,” he said. “Disasters don’t follow any demographic. They affect a broad spectrum of people in a community.”


Roberts, who has staffed the flood recovery and disaster loan center in Janesville since it opened, said many people who have stopped at the center were “repeat customers.” That has allowed her to form a connection with the people in Rock County, she said.


“I might be here to take their application, and then I might also be here to close on their loan—there’s a bond there,” she said.


Bobby Knight, also a representative of the SBA who staffed the center on its last day, said he really felt for the people in Rock County.


“My heart just goes out to them,” he said. “I just wonder how can they be so calm through all this.”


HOW TO APPLY FOR A LOAN


Although the U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loan center in Janesville has closed, individuals and businesses still can apply for long-term, low-interest loans. The application deadline is Monday, Sept. 15.


Individuals and businesses must first be registered with FEMA. To register, call toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA.


Loan applications are available online at https://disasterloan .sba.gov/ela. For more information, call toll-free at 1-800-659-2955.


BY THE NUMBERS


398


homeowners were eligible


for $997,334 in federal aid


40


homeowners were approved


for loans totaling


$1,218,800


5
businesses were approved


for loans


totaling $645,200


1
non-profit organization


was approved


for a loan of $49,600



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