The Small Business Administration (SBA), in conjuction with FEMA, has opened a disaster recovery center at the Senior Citizen's Activity Center at 1401 S. Houston Ave. in Humble. SBA loan counselors are able to speak face to face with loan applicants to help them apply for SBA assistance.

Darla Booker, public information officer, said that people should first apply with FEMA and then with the SBA. She wants to make it clear that everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey can apply for a loan, not just businesses.

“We are here to offer long-term, low-interest loans of up to $2 million for businesses, with interests rates starting at 3.3 percent,” she said. “Homeowners can receive up to $200,000 for damaged homes and up to $40,000 for personal items, including automobiles. Those interests rates start at 1.75 percent. Renters can receive up to $40,000 for personal property, also starting at 1.75 percent.”

After FEMA, the SBA is the government's primary source of money to help renters, homeowners and businesses of all sizes. They opened the Humble center on Wednesday, Sept. 20 and had a steady stream of clients all day long. The center will be  open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. every day for as long as needed.

Booker said that there are three ways people can apply for SBA loans: at sba.gov, by calling 1-800-659-2955, or in person at one of their disaster recovery centers, 35 of which were open by Sept. 21. Nonprofit organizations can also apply for loans. “Once you register with FEMA, it's important for businesses to apply for disaster loans,” said Booker. “As of Sept. 21 we had approved $367 million to victims of Hurricane Harvey across the state of Texas, and that number is only going to go up. There are 39 counties affected by Harvey that are eligible for aid.”

The SBA also has five business recovery centers open with resource partners to help the community with counseling for financial, accounting, marketing and other post-disaster challenges. They are on hand at no charge to help businesses re-establish operations and can help in reconstructing damaged and destroyed business documents. For more information, visit  americassbdc.org. Other resources include the Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE) mentors at score.org  and the Women's Business Center and Veteran's Business Outreach Center.

The SBA also provides loans for “economic injury.” Booker explained that these are businesses that didn't sustain physical damage but lost business due to situations such closed roads and reduced numbers of customers or employees. These loans can also be up to $2 million to provide working capital to allow businesses to resume after a disaster.

Although Booker said, “We'll be here as long as it takes,” there are deadlines. The deadline to file applications for physical damage for renters, homeowners and businesses is Oct. 24. The deadline for economic injury is May 25, allowing nine months for business owners to fully assess their losses.    

Sarah Mertins
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I grew up on a farm in New Mexico and miss eating hot chile and having four seasons. I didn't start college until I was already a mother and double majored in English and anthropology. I received an Honors B.A. from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and was named “Outstanding Student” in English. My honors thesis is titled “The Enduring and Ever-Changing Legend of La Llorona.” I worked as a police reporter for a bit before staying home in Kingwood to raise my two daughters. My hobbies include reading, gardening, cooking and traveling.