The deadline for federal disaster aid available to businesses, nonprofits, homeowners and renters repairing damages from Hurricane Irene has been extended until Nov. 30. That aid includes grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration.
The SBA has issued more than 66,800 applications in New Jersey, but has only received 5,017 back so far, according to Kathy Cook, public affairs specialist with the agency’s office of disaster assistance.
“Currently, a very small percentage of people have returned the applications to us,” Cook said. “They may have gotten enough funds from insurance or FEMA — or they may be reluctant to borrow, thinking they can’t afford a loan.”
To date, the SBA has approved 91 loans in Monmouth County, one of the hardest hit by the storm, for a total of more than $2.3 million. Cook said the advantage of SBA loans is that they usually come with lower interest rates than those offered by banks — as low as 4 percent for business owners.
“We can stretch the loan out as long as 30 years to make payments more affordable,” Cook said.
The SBA makes physical disaster loans of up to $2 million to repair or replace property, equipment and inventory damaged in a disaster.
Ed Edahl, a spokesman for FEMA’s New Jersey office, said 5,866 applications have been submitted in Monmouth County; statewide, FEMA has given out more than $138 million in grants.
“We have money to give to people who qualify — but in order to do that, they need to register,” Edahl said. “We can’t do anything for anybody that we don’t know about.”
To register for disaster assistance, visit www.disasterassistance.gov or www.sba.gov.