Ed. note: This was originally posted on the SBA website.
On Sunday, I traveled with Secretary Napolitano, Secretary Vilsack, Secretary Donovan, Administrator Fugate, and others to Alabama and Mississippi. We saw communities that were devastated by the storms and tornadoes that hit one week ago today. We’re coordinating our resources and manpower across the federal, state, and local levels, working together more closely than ever to make sure that these hard-hit communities get the assistance they need as quickly as possible.
I met a woman who had lost her home, who was searching through the debris and had found only a few items worth keeping. I talked with her and others throughout the day about applying for low-interest SBA disaster loans of up to $200,000 for homeowners and up to $2 million for businesses. I encouraged them to go ahead and fill out an application, even if they’re waiting on an insurance settlement. I also explained Economic Injury Disaster Loans that help meet working capital needs even if a business didn’t have any property damage.
Smithville, Mississippi, was particularly hard hit. The Mayor said that over 100 homes were destroyed and every store on Main Street was either damaged or demolished. He and others in City Hall took shelter under the boardroom table in order to survive.
Perhaps what inspired me most was that he said the local small business owners are already talking about how they’re going to rebuild. I think that when small businesses start to reopen their doors in the weeks and months after a major disaster, the community gets a sense that recovery is possible and within their grasp.
I know that we can't fill the sense of loss that these communities have right now, and all of us continue to mourn the lives that have been lost. But we are doing everything we can to help these communities get back on their feet as quickly as possible.
Already, the SBA has activated 75 staff and we’ve helped set up 10 Disaster Recovery Centers across Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, with 15 more centers to come. This is in addition to the 42 staff and 14 centers we helped open in North Carolina where the first SBA disaster loans from that previous storm have already been approved.
If you or someone you know needs help, go to www.disasterassistance.gov. Also, you can call SBA’s hotline at (800) 659-2955 or email email@example.com. Also, you can find our latest disaster declaration information by going here.
We will be there until the job is done, and we will get it done right.