Government Money for Disaster Victims

It happened. Now it’s time to rebuild. Get up! Do NOT let this break your spirit!

Whether it’s Hurricane Katrina or a freak accident, the government stands ready right now to help you recover from the disaster that devastated your home and/or your business. It doesn’t matter whether you ran a lemonade stand or a 100-employee company; whether you rented an apartment or own what used to be a nice house.

Money to rebuild is right in front of you.

Widespread mistaken belief: SBA only provides funds for businesses.

FACT: 80 percent of SBA low-interest disaster recovery loans go to renters and homeowners.

Renters and homeowners can borrow up to $40,000 for personal property losses. Homeowners may receive up to $200,000 for real property recovery (damage to their home). Business loans for disaster recovery can go as high as $1.5 million to repair property and/or be used as working capital.

The loan process is extremely fast after a declared disaster, according to Herbert Mitchell, associate administrator for SBA’s disaster assistance program. “In most cases we are able to disburse funds in three to five days in 97 percent of the requests that we get,” he says.

In Louisiana, recent SBA loans have ranged from a low of $600 to as high as $280,000. This illustrates the fact that no matter what you may have lost due to disaster, you have an immediate and effective option for money to get back on your feet and move on with your life – starting today.

Getting the money

1. Register with FEMA. The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) coordinates the overall federal response to a disaster. In order to be considered for SBA disaster loan assistance you must first register with FEMA in order to get into the system. Two ways to get rolling: 1) call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362); or 2) go to and follow the online instructions.

will send you a package, or you can pick one up at a local disaster recovery center (call or check the website to find one near you).

2. Complete the package. If you have trouble, call customer service at 1-800-659-2955 or visit a disaster recovery center for help. The package contains FAQs and pointers to help you fast-track your application. At these offices, loan officers are on hand as well as customer service reps to help you complete your application quickly and get the help you need ASAP.

The SBA’s role in disaster recovery is to help renters, homeowners, small businesses, and non-profit organizations to get back on their feet.

You need to know that SBA loans are intended to make up the difference between your actual assessed losses and what your insurance company covers. In other words, if you sustained $30,000 in losses and your insurance only covered $20,000, your SBA loan would be considered for up to $10,000. If you were uninsured, your SBA loan could cover your entire loss.

But the SBA recognizes that people need help fast, and insurance money often gets delayed.

“You don’t have to wait until you settle with your insurance company,” Mitchell points out. “You can apply, take an assignment in the insurance, and then we can settle up at the end.”

Don’t let a disaster take your life away. Get back on your feet and let SBA help you build a new life. And by the way … you may also be eligible for FEMA grant money, depending on your circumstances!
About the Author

For more information on SBA loans and direct links to money and services for helping you to recover your business and life after a disaster, please see the author’s quick-read series on this topic. Michael Riley ( specializes in writing articles for business and personal development.

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Advancing Women

Advancing Women