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Millions and counting: SBA loans continue for tornado survivors as first deadline draws nearer

A scene of devastation in Mayfield following the tornado.
Liam Niemeyer
A scene of devastation in Mayfield following the tornado.

The Small Business Administration has given out nearly $26.5 million in disaster loans in the weeks following the deadly tornado outbreak that ravaged western and central Kentucky and the agency is continuing to encourage people to apply.

Sally Graham, public information officer for the SBA, said it is still important for everyone affected by the tornados to apply for the disaster loans, especially those referred to the SBA by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These loans are available not only to small businesses, but also homeowners, renters and nonprofits. If an application is declined, the SBA will refer the applicant back to FEMA to see if additional funds are available.

Graham described this process as a crucial step in disaster recovery.

“It is sort of a hurdle that's put in the face of a disaster survivor, but it's an important piece, in case there's additional funds that they may be leaving, and just don't know that it could be available to them,” Graham said.

The SBA deadline for physical damage loans is Feb. 10 and the deadline for economic injury disaster loans is Sept. 12.

Small businesses and some nonprofits can apply for up to $2 million in loans. Homeowners can apply for up to $200,000 in loans and renters can apply for up to $40,000 in loans.

“If you’re concerned about insurance, we advise (disaster survivors) to get (their)application in before the deadline … just so that that disaster survivor has an opportunity to have another tool in their toolbox for recovery,” the SBA representative said.

The Purchase Area Development District is a SBA partner and lender. Mike Maxwell, the business lending manager for PADD, said they can’t do anything directly related to this SBA lending process but have been directing people to call the SBA.

“Get an application in,” Maxwell said. “It's better to be declined but have the application in rather than sitting back and not getting the application in and possibly missing out on an opportunity.”

Currently, the SBA has three business recovery centers open – one each in Benton, Bowling Green and Madisonville. Graham said to visit the SBA in one of these locations to fill out an application or by calling and requesting the forms or filling them out online.

There’s no obligation or fee tied to the loan. If a disaster survivor is offered a loan, they don’t have to accept it and can defer it for six months.

“It simply is putting the disaster survivor in the driver's seat as far as what's happening with their recovery, of what they can do for long term disaster recovery,” Graham said.

Lily Burris is a tornado recovery reporter for WKMS, Murray State's NPR Station. Her nine month reporting project is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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