Orange County qualifies for federal aid

Jul. 17, 2013 @ 05:11 PM

Orange County has received a federal disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration, allowing residents and businesses affected by recent flooding to apply for low-interest federal loans.

Gov. Pat McCrory announced the news on Wednesday.

“While I’m inspired by the resilience of those who have been impacted, we want to make all resources available for recovery efforts,” McCrory said in a news release. “We requested this assistance to get the people and businesses of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and surrounding areas back on their feet.”

Loans up to $200,000 will be made available through the SBA to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed structures. Homeowners and renters also are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property, such as clothing and appliances.

An SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center will open Friday at the University Mall at 201 South Estes Drive, Suite A10 in Chapel Hill.

The center will be open from 12 to 6 p.m. on Friday, then 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. It will close July 21, but open next Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

McCrory sent the request for assistance to the SBA last week.

He also announced a state disaster declaration on Wednesday that will enable residents who do not qualify for SBA loans to seek state funds to help them recover. 

Local officials said that federal loans and state grants will go a long way toward helping residents recover from the June 30 flooding brought on by torrential rains that dumped more than 5 inches of rain.

“Many of the areas hardest hit were low-income areas,” said Darshan Patel, assistant chief of Orange County Emergency Management. “Without this assistance, it would be very difficult for these residents to return to a normal life.”

The flooding displaced more than 150 families and some business were hard hit as well. 

“Recovery teams from the SBA and North Carolina Emergency Management will be at the disaster outreach center to help individuals complete their applications, answer questions about the disaster loan program and explain the application process,” said Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan.

Businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by flooding are eligible to borrow up to $2 million for physical damage. Working capital loans are also available to small businesses and most private non-profit organizations. 

Interest rates are as low as 1.875 percent for homeowners and renters, 2.875 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years.  

Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.  

Orange County was the only local county to meet the threshold for SBA assistance, but residents and businesses in Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Durham and Person counties may also apply for federal assistance. 

Residents and business owners who are unable to visit the outreach center can apply for help via the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or apply online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community can call 800-877-8339.