Federal low-interest loans available for tornado victims | News, Sports, Jobs – FORT MYERS


A U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Outreach Center has been set up at Lee County Faith United Methodist Church on 15690 McGregor Blvd in Fort Myers.

Victims of January’s tornadoes in the Iona-McGregor area of South Fort Myers seeking assistance have another option available to them.

Residents affected by the severe storms and tornadoes on Jan. 16 may apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced. Guzman made the loans available in response to a letter from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ authorized representative Kevin Guthrie on April 25, requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA.

The Jan. 16 tornado touchded down in the Mercury Way and Century 21 mobile home parks in the Iona section of South Fort Myers, destroying 72 homes and damaging another 58 homes. Homes in Charlotte County also were damaged.

An SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center has been set up at Lee County Faith United Methodist Church on 15690 McGregor Blvd in Fort Myers, FL. The center will be open through Thursday, May 19. Office hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Representatives will be available to answer questions about the disaster loan program and help individuals complete their applications. All visitors to the DLOC are encouraged to wear a face mask.

The Century 21 clubhouse on Mercury Way suffered extensive damage during January’s tornado on Mercury Way in Iona. Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Interest rates are as low as 2.83 % for businesses, 1.875 % for nonprofits and 1.438 % for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years.

“Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property,” said Kem Fleming, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta. Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase of up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes.

“Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets,” said SBA’s South Florida Acting District Director, J. Malcolm Richards. For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter, sump pump, French drain, or retaining wall to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov/ela/s and should apply under SBA declaration # 17436.

“SBA’s mission-driven team stands ready to help Florida’s small businesses and residents impacted by the severe storms and tornadoes,” Guzman said. “We’re committed to providing federal disaster loans swiftly and efficiently, with a customer-centric approach to help businesses and communities recover and rebuild.”

This mobile home, belonging to Edward Murray, was overturned and completely upside down after a tornado touched down in South Fort Myers. / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Disaster loan information and application forms may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (if you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services) or emailing DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov. Loan applications may be downloaded at sba.gov/disaster.The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is July 1. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Feb. 2, 2023.

Collateral is required for physical loss loans over $25,000 and all EIDL loans over $25,000. SBA takes real estate as collateral when it is available. The law authorizes loan terms up to a maximum of 30 years. However, the law restricts businesses with credit available elsewhere to a maximum 7-year term. SBA sets the installment payment amount and corresponding maturity based upon each borrower’s ability to repay. The law limits EIDLs to $2 million for alleviating economic injury caused by the disaster. SBA regulations limit home loans to $200,000 for the repair or replacement of real estate and $40,000 to repair or replace personal property.

Secondary homes, personal pleasure boats, airplanes, recreational vehicles, and similar property are not eligible, unless used for business purposes. Property such as antiques, and collections are eligible only to repair the damage. Business owners may be eligible for the refinancing of existing mortgages or liens on real estate, machinery, and equipment, up to the amount of the loan for the repair or replacement of real estate, machinery, and equipment. SBA disaster loans can be used to relocate.

Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

The federal assistance is separate from the $1.8 million State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Disaster Assistance Grant Agreement with the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church approved by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners last month.

The state also set up a portal to raise funds for the tornado victims through the Division of Emergency Management at

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