The Washington Times-Herald

January 31, 2014

State looks for federal loans for tornado aid

By Mike Grant Times Herald
The Washington Times-Herald

---- — Indiana officials have filed a new request looking for help for Daviess County residents hit by the Nov. 17 tornado. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security says Governor Mike Pence asked the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to approve disaster loan status for Daviess, Howard, and Fountain counties.

The move comes after the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied two requests by the state for federal disaster designations that would have opened the way for grants for homes and businesses damaged and destroyed by EF-2 tornado. The tornado swept from the Maysville Road area, across the western part of Daviess County and into the west side of Washington along Sycamore Street. Along the way it destroyed and damaged at least 120 homes and businesses.

"The SBA request is pretty standard at this point," said Daviess County Emergency Management Agency Director Paul Goss. "SBA officials were here making damage evaluations at the same time FEMA was doing its assessment."

While there will be no grants from SBA the possibility that the state's request will be approved is higher. "The SBA criteria is much lower than FEMA," explained Goss. "This will really be helpful for people who may not be able to qualify for more conventional loans to rebuild."

The SBA would handle the low interest loans, but they would not be limited to commercial operations. "If this is approved SBA will set up an office here in town and individuals and businesses will be able to come in and make applications."

The approval would also allow nonprofits to apply for low interest loans. It could also open the way for residents in neighboring counties to qualify for loans for damages from the November storm. That would provide some help for Knox, Pike, Greene, Martin, Dubois, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Grant, Miami, Montgomery, Parke, Pike, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Vermillion, and Warren counties.

For Daviess County the loans could have a big impact. "There is considerable need here," said Goss. "This is a way for people to recover, for the area hit by the tornado to recover. With 120 homes and business affected these people need to be getting back in their homes and it can put some money into the local economy to cover the rebuilding process."

The relief effort for now, though, remains on hold. "It will probably be another month before we hear anything," said Goss. "That will mean people have been waiting for three months or more. It's been a long, painful process for those who were displaced. All we can do is to tell them to get all of their financial documents in order and have them ready so that if approval is given they can be ready to make their applications."