Adrianne Laneave and Mary Gipson have jobs that require them to be in areas east of the Mississippi River struck by natural disasters within 48 hours of those disasters occurring. A packed suitcase and a plane ticket can quickly replace the usual daily routine for the two.
Laneave lives in Connecitcut, Gipson in Georgia. But home for the US Small Business Administration representatives in the last couple of weeks has been Mississippi, the site of a series of tornadoes April 28 that killed more than a dozen people and destroyed scores of homes and businesses. They say theyre here to offer something many Mississippians still need more than two weeks after the storms moved through – help.
That help is in the form of SBA disaster loans available to homeowners, business owners and nonprofits that suffered property damage in 12 counties: Itawamba, Jones, Leake, Lee, Lowndes, Madison, Montgomery, Rankin, Simpson, Warren, Wayne and Winston. Additionally, economic-injury loans are available in 33 other counties, including Hinds County, for small businesses, small agriculture co-ops and nonprofits that have been financially disrupted by the storms.
SBA says more than $500,000 in loans have been approved in Mississippi so far, and that number likely will grow significantly in coming weeks. And while there are many people still without shelter and other essentials, Gipson says her travels through Mississippi since April 28 show the states hardest-hit communities are gradually transitioning from trauma to resolve.
The debris has been moved to the side of roads to be picked up. The Red Cross is on the ground. MEMA is on the ground, she said.
Interest rates on SBA disaster and economic-injury loans range from about 2.2 percent for home loans to 4 percent for business loans. Amounts vary, depending on the type of loans sought, but are as much as $2 million for business disaster loans.
For loans involving losses greater than $25,000, collateral is required. If an applicant cant meet that requirement, that doesnt mean theyll be denied, but the applicant will have to pledge whatever physical or financial assets they have, Laneave said. Loans can be repaid over 30 years, and ability to pay is the overarching guideline in whether SBA approves a loan.
Applicants credit histories are taken into consideration, but Laneave says theres no magic number in terms of credit score that determines if someone will be approved or not.
SBA representatives are staffing eight disaster recovery centers statewide to assist people in applying. Locally, those centers can be found at the Rankin County extension office, 601 Marquette Road, Brandon, and the Madison County Road Department, 3137 Liberty St., Canton.
Disaster-loan applications are due by June 30. Economic-injury loan applications must be filed by January 30. Forms are available electronically at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.