The U.S. Small Business Administration is reminding Florida residents and business owners that there is just a little more than a week left to apply for federal disaster relief for damage caused by Hurricane Ian.
The agency issued a statement Tuesday, Jan. 3, strongly encouraging “businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters to apply for a disaster loan before the Jan. 12 deadline.”
Those who fail to apply in time will lose out on access to long-term, low-interest loans the government is offering to help people with losses caused by Ian. The loans are to cover physical damage and working capital, SBA says in the statement.
Interest rates for these loans are as low as 3.04% for businesses, 1.875% for nonprofit organizations and 2.188% for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. And applicants may qualify for loans up to 20% of their physical damages,
As of Tuesday, the agency says it has approved 19,537 disaster loans in Florida totaling more than $1.3 billion.
SBA is also telling those waiting for an insurance settlement not to hold off until it comes through before applying. The agency says in the statement that it “can make a loan for the total loss and use insurance proceeds to reduce or repay the loan.”
Those who don’t get in on time may still have a shot at getting a loan, but the process could be significantly tougher. According to an SBA spokesperson, those who don’t make it by Jan. 12 “can try to apply after the deadline, but they will have to provide a good reason/justification for why they didn’t apply by the deadline.”
According to the SBA, businesses in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Small businesses and most private nonprofits in adjacent counties, including Pasco County, are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
Hurricane Ian hit Florida Sept. 28, making landfall just south of Punta Gorda. It brought with it more than 20 inches of rain and a heavy storm surge that destroyed large parts of Southwest Florida and caused major damage throughout the state. Total insured losses are estimated to top $12 billion.