FEMA processing West applications, SBA to close office

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013 12:01 am

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to process almost 800 applications for disaster assistance from West residents, the U.S. Small Business Administration will close its branch office in West next week.

With a June 18 deadline looming for FEMA assistance registration, FEMA officials say they have received 764 applications and promise to call each applicant soon to make sure they receive all the relief for which they are eligible.

Since the April 17 explosion at West Fertilizer Co., the state of Texas, FEMA and the SBA have approved more than $6.5 million in federal disaster assistance grants and low-interest disaster loans from those in West affected by the blast, according to a FEMA news release.

Karen Bernsen, interim executive director of the West Long-Term Recovery Center, said
352 homes were affected by the blast. Of those, 161 were destroyed, with 58 of those residents not being insured and 103 with insurance of some sort.

Fifty-two homes suffered major damage, with 21 of those having no insurance and 31 having some insurance.

Forty-six homes sustained minor damage, with 25 having no insurance and 21 having insurance, according to Bernsen’s figures.

The grants are for temporary housing, home repair and reconstruction and other needs, including personal property replacement or disaster-related medical and dental bills.

The $6.5 million total also includes more than
$5.8 million in low-interest disaster loans approved from the SBA. Those loans help pay for residential and business property losses as well as funds for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Outreach center

The SBA announced Wednesday that it will close its Disaster Loan Outreach Center in downtown West on Thursday.

Until then, the center at 201 N. Roberts St. will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays for workers to answer questions from residents and business owners, explain the SBA’s disaster loan program and help with applications.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed property, according to the SBA. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Interest rates can be as low as 1.68 percent for homeowners and renters, 2.87 percent for private, nonprofit organizations and
4 percent for businesses, with terms up to 30 years.

Applicants may apply online at https://disasterloans.sba.gov/ela.

West residents who have not registered with FEMA may do so at www.disaster
assistance.gov or by calling 800-621-FEMA.

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