$33M approved to help St. Louis area flood victims, officials say
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Federal agencies are sharing new numbers about how many residents have been helped and the amount of money distributed since July’s historic rainfall and flooding.
Roughly $33 million has been approved to help flood victims recover while FEMA has provided $20.4 million in individual assistance grants for renters and homeowners. More than 6,000 households have been approved.
FEMA External Affairs Officer John Mills said more than 700 people have visited FEMA centers, so far. The busiest location is the Hazelwood Civic Center in St. Louis County, with about 500 visits.
“People are not required to visit a Disaster Recovery Center to get assistance. We encourage people to apply online or by phone before visiting,” Mills said.
FEMA tracks of the number of daily visits to determine whether to relocate or close the centers. The agency told News 4 it will be in St. Louis for at least three months. In general, those decisions are made in coordination with local emergency management officials.
For the latest on FEMA assistance for St. Louis area flood survivors, click here.
Corey Williams with the Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Assistance said he gets questioned often about why SBA gives loans to homeowners and does not allocate all funds to businesses.
“Anyone who lost their home, their business, their non-profit, this is their Katrina,” Williams explained. “All of our loans are directly funded by the U.S. Treasury, so these are our federal taxpayer dollars at work.’
It comes down to accessibility. FEMA dollars to residents with damage get grant assistance. Meanwhile, the SBA gives aid with low-interest loans.
The dollar amount of those loans in some cases may be more advantageous to a person in need over what FEMA can offer, and that’s why FEMA may refer someone to contact SBA.
For example, the SBA can offer $200,000 loans for real estate damage and $40,000 for personal property damage, such as vehicles.
So far, the SBA has approved 76 home loans for area flood survivors, totaling more than $2.3 million for residents.
“We just want to make sure everyone takes advantage of the process,” Williams shared. “Register with FEMA first and if you get referred to the SBA, make sure you finish that application.”
Issuing aid for businesses is a longer process. There is a nine-month deadline for economic injury.
“A lot of businesses will wait month six, seven, eight or nine to realize ‘I’ve had a drop in sales for the last five months or I’ve had to cut employees.’ Those are all signs of economic injury,” Williams said.
A business owner could apply for an unsecured loan. They can get $25,000 for economic injury and $25,000 for physical loss without pledging collateral.
Additionally, if they want to request a loan increase, they can do so within the first two years of the agreement.
To learn more about the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Assistance program, click here.
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