SBA offers disaster assistance to Darlington tornado victims

Darlington, SC - DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) - Following a request by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, residents affected by April's tornado in Darlington can now apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Karen G. Mills, administrator for the Small Business Administration, said Monday that loans up to $200,000 are now available for homeowners to repair or replace damaged real estate. A $40,000 extension has also been made available to eligible homeowners and renters to replace or repair damaged personal property.

"The [Small Business Association] is strongly committed to providing the people of South Carolina with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes with federal disaster loans," Mills said in a prepared statement. "Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at the [Small Business Administration]."

Representatives from the agency will be on hand at Mayo High School for Math, Science and Technology to answer questions about the disaster loan program, explain the process and provide assistance on applications.

Residents affected by the tornado may visit the Small Business Administration's Disaster Loan Outreach Center on the following days:

May 20 - 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

May 21 - 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

May 22 - 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

May 24-27 - 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Disaster assistance offered by the Small Business Administration extends from Darlington County into Chesterfield, Florence, Kershaw, Lee and Marlboro counties.

"Businesses and non-profit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets," Elliot Cooper, the agency's South Carolina district director, said.

Agency officials said there is a possibility of a 20 percent increase of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate or leasehold improvements, as verified, to make improvements that lessen the risk of future property damaged by disasters of the same kind.

Interest rates are as low as 2.750 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years.

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

South Carolina residents may apply for disaster loans from the Small Business Administration's website by clicking here.

The last day to apply for assistance for physical property damage is July 13. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Feb. 14, 2011.

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