The U.S. Small Business Administration will be setting up temporary offices in the CNMI to provide information and assist people who were affected by Typhoon Mangkhut.
U.S. SBA public information officer Cynthia Cowell said that they usually work in disaster recovery centers under the wing of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“[U.S. SBA] provides low-interest, long-term disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private, non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters to repair or replace uninsured or underinsured disaster damaged properties,” Cowell, who just arrived on Saipan Wednesday, told Saipan Tribune.
“We also offer economic injury disaster loans for businesses that may or may not have sustained any damage, but have experienced a downturn in business because of the disaster. [These loans] are just working capital to keep the business afloat until it picks up again. Your tourism may have been affected because of [Typhoon Mangkhut].”
She said that those who were affected could apply online or visit their office once they had already set up the help center. “We advise people to allow us to settle in and we’ll inform them in the coming days. Those who are affected can apply online but we will also have people in the FEMA disaster recovery centers who’ll meet them face-to-face.”
“We will assist and help them get these loans. We’ll walk them through the process step-by-step but we also recommend that residents and businesses to first file their insurance claims and register with FEMA online at disasterassistance.gov. Please, don’t wait for your insurance and FEMA to settle before applying for SBA assistance,” said Cowell.
She added that FEMA is still trying to get all of their staff for the disaster recovery center. Once that’s set up, SBA would then have their own personnel ready to assist those who would avail of low-interest loans.
Cowell said that like FEMA, U.S. SBA would be setting up offices on Rota. “We work closely with FEMA but they take the lead when it comes to opening up offices. We may be able to open a Disaster Loan Outreach Center.”
“SBA also provides low-interest government loans to homeowners and renters as well as businesses and these can be for up to 30 years. We also have physical damage loans and for businesses, economic injury. It can go up to $2 million. Interest rates are as low as 2 percent for homeowners and most people get that low rate.”
The deadline for application is on Nov. 28, 2018, for the physical damage loans and July 1, 2019, for economic injury. For more information, visit sba.gov/disaster.