Juneau homeowners, businesses and nonprofits that were affected by glacial outburst flooding in August may qualify for federal aid in the form of a low-interest federal loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The agency stepped in after the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied requests for disaster aid in late September. Public Information Officer Garth MacDonald said the agency’s loan program can help people or businesses affected by disasters that might not meet FEMA criteria.
“Our low interest loans are really the primary federal recovery dollars for long-term recovery,” MacDonald said. “And our goal is to try to help people get as close to the pre-disaster condition as possible.”
The agency has opened a temporary Disaster Loan Outreach Center at the Dimond Park Aquatic Center, where a customer service team will be available to answer questions and help with applications until Oct. 24.
Businesses or nonprofits are eligible for a loan of up to $2 million to replace damaged or destroyed property and business inventory, while homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $500,000 and $100,000 respectively to rebuild or repair their homes or replace belongings that were lost in the flood.
Eligibility for those loans is subject to some credit requirements, but interest rates are low — between 2.5% and 4% — with terms of up to 30 years. Those who qualify for loans will be exempt from making payments and accruing interest for a year after they receive their funds.
According to MacDonald, this kind of loan is often more flexible than insurance payouts or other forms of federal and state disaster aid. For instance, a percentage of the loan can be used for mitigation work to protect properties from future floods. So, while loans can’t be used to rebuild land, bank stabilization and fortification work may qualify.
Many people have already poured money into repair work, but the loans can still provide relief. Money from the loans may be used to pay off a private loan or another line of credit with a higher interest rate.
“Don’t assume you’re not going to get what you want. Don’t assume that you’re going to be denied,” MacDonald said. “Apply, apply, apply.”
People who wish to apply can also find more information at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov or via SBA’s customer service line: (800) 659-2955.
The application deadline for loans to cover individual property damage is Dec. 5, 2023. Businesses or nonprofits can apply until July 8, 2024.
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