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Aid available for flood survivors

RALEIGH – Gov. Bev Perdue announced Wednesday that financial assistance is available for survivors of the flash flooding that struck portions of Halifax and Northampton counties Aug.25. The aid is a result of the governor’s request for a disaster declaration by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“We are fortunate that there were no life-threatening injuries during this storm given how many people were caught off guard,” Perdue said. “Now homeowners, renters and business owners whose property was damaged or destroyed can apply for low-interest loans or grants to help get back on their feet.”

A U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Outreach Center will open Friday at the Jo Story Senior Center, located at 701 Jackson Street in Roanoke Rapids to help individuals complete their applications, answer questions about the disaster loan program and explain the application process. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays through Thursday, Sept. 13, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8. The centers will be closed Sunday, Sept. 9.

Suggested documents to bring include drivers license, Social Security card, insurance paperwork and documentation, photos of damage, address of damage and current address.

Perdue sent the request for assistance to the SBA last week. During visits to storm-damaged areas last Friday, the governor announced she had declared a state disaster declaration enabling those who do not qualify for SBA loans to seek state funds to help them recover.

Severe storms rolled through the area Aug. 25 flooding dozens of roads and more than 75 homes and businesses in Roanoke Rapids, Gaston, Weldon and other areas in the two counties. The flooding closed a portion of Interstate 95 for several hours, sent more than 50 residents to one of two local shelters and seeped into Halifax Regional Hospital’s basement.

Halifax County and the Town of Gaston declared local states of emergency Saturday. Damage assessment teams from North Carolina Emergency Management and the SBA helped local officials survey the damage Aug 26-29. The level of damage did not meet the threshold for financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Loans up to $200,000 are available through the SBA to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate.  Homeowners and renters also are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses and non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million for physical damage. Working capital loans are also available to small businesses and most private non-profit organizations.

Interest rates are as low as 1.688 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years.  Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Individuals and businesses unable to visit the center can apply via the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or apply online at

https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

Storm victims in Halifax and Northampton Counties who do not qualify for a federal loan may be eligible for a state grant of up to a maximum of $31,400 to help pay for housing and other essential needs.