Victims of the May 15 tornado have help in accessing federal grant funds that can put them back on their feet and back into homes.
The grants are through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs.
The SBA funds are not just for business owners. They are also for homeowners, renters and nonprofit organizations.
Loans are for the uninsured and underinsured and for uncompensated losses.
On Thursday, three customer service representatives from the SBA began operating a Disaster Loan Outreach Center on the first floor of the courthouse.
They will be there from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday for an indefinite period.
Spokesman Richard Jenkins said that, although no ending date has been set, the Outreach Centers are typically operated for two or three weeks. The representatives leave once requests for help dwindle.
Applications for loans pertaining to physical damage have a July 29 deadline. Applications for loans based on economic injury will be accepted through March 3, 2014.
Kevin R. Wynne, a public information officer for the SBA, said that loans are available for businesses that may not have been hit by the tornado, but will nevertheless be impacted economically.
As an example, he said that some businesses will feel an economic impact when tornado victims divert their disposable income into rebuilding or repairing their homes.
Interest rates for home loans are 1.875 percent; business loans, 4 percent. Although credit history will be reviewed, Wynne said that the SBA’s primary concern is providing help to tornado victims.
Loans are directly deposited into the applicant’s bank account. Any insurance payments that come in later can be applied to the SBA loan, Wynne said.
More information can be obtained through the SBA’s website, www.sba.gov. Applications can be filled out online, though in-person assistance is provided at the courthouse.
Other grant opportunities are available through the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs.
County Judge Darrell Cockerham said that a variety of funding opportunities are accessible through that organization, including funds for demolition, reconstruction, rental assistance and down payment and closing costs.
Stephanie Parker will be assisting tornado victims in seeking those grant funds. She can be reached through the Hood County Fire Marshal’s office at 817-579-3335.
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