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The financial cavalry has arrived for victims of the Center Fire.
Representatives of the U.S. Small Business Administration set up shop in Big Pine at noon on Tuesday to assist community members in applying for federal disaster relief loans.
Loans of up to $40,000 will be available for replacement of personal items and, loans up to $200,000 will be available to homeowners to replace or repair real estate. Businesses affected, if any, will be eligible for loans up to $2 million. â€śSBA can also lend additional funds to homeowners and businesses to help with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future,â€ť a press release states.
The Disaster Loan Outreach Center will be located at the Big Pine School, 500 S. Main St. The center will be open from 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The center will close Thursday, April 21.
SBA customer service representatives will be on hand to issue loan applications, answer questions about SBAâ€™s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each individual complete their application. No appointment is necessary.
In addition, for small businesses and most private, non-profit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans, â€śto help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDLÂ assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage,â€ť the press release states.
SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills made the announcement Tuesday of the SBA disaster proclamation, which makes SBA assistance available to those affected in the counties of Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Mono, San Bernardino and Tulare counties as well as the neighboring Nevada counties of Clark, Esmeralda and Nye.
â€śGetting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA,â€ť Mills said.
The SBA acted under its own authority to declare a disaster following a request received on March 29 from Governor Jerry Brownâ€™s designated representative, Mike Dayton, acting secretary of California Emergency Management Agency.
SBA Public Information Officer Alex Contreras explained Tuesday said that Center Fire qualified for an SBA disaster declaration, but was not considered a large enough incident to qualify for federal emergency management assistance.
The SBA loans are available to those with or without insurance, Contreras said. He explained that the loans can also be a way to recover recently purchased or acquired items that havenâ€™t been added to an insurance policy ownerâ€™s personal property list.
Contreras said working ranches must apply with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Interest rates for the SBA loans can be as low as 2.563 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for private, nonâ€‘profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based upon each applicantâ€™s financial condition.
Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBAâ€™s Customer Service Center by calling SBA toll-free at (800) 659-2955, or visiting SBAâ€™s website at http://www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Hearing impaired individuals may call (800)Â 877-8339.
Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBAâ€™s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
The filing deadline to return applications for property damage is June 6, 2011. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Jan. 5, 2012.
For more information, visit SBAâ€™s website at http://www.sba.gov/services/â€ťdisastercustomerservice@sba.gov.