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Bertie storm victims eligible for SBA loans

WINDSOR – Additional assistance, this time in the form of low interest loans, is headed here in the wake of a powerful tornado during Hurricane Isaias that claimed two lives, injured 14 others, and inflicted severe damage to numerous homes.

On Thursday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) granted Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for a disaster declaration for small businesses and homeowners facing damage from a tornado that struck as Hurricane Isaias passed through the state on Aug. 4.

“With a tornado on top of a pandemic, this SBA approval will provide much-needed help to our small businesses and homeowners,” said Cooper. “This is the first step to getting assistance for North Carolinians, and we will continue to push for more.”

The declaration authorizes low-interest disaster loans to residents and businesses who suffered losses in Bertie County and the contiguous counties of Chowan, Halifax, Hertford, Martin, Northampton, and Washington.

SBA Disaster Loans provide up to $200,000 to homeowners and up to $2 million to businesses to repair and/or replace damaged property. Homeowners and renters would also be eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged personal property.

A disaster recovery center will open Aug. 24 in Windsor at the Bertie County Council of Aging office, located at 103 School Street, where storm victims can apply for SBA Disaster Loans and other assistance. Beginning Monday morning (Aug. 24), residents needing assistance should call 252-794-6144 to make an appointment so that social distancing can be maintained in the recovery center.

The recovery center will be open weekdays from 10 am until 6 pm and from 10 am until 2 pm on Saturdays through Sept. 3.

Residents may also apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ or via telephone at 202-803-3307 or 470-363-5936.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to are also available to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available to businesses regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

The SBA isn’t alone in an effort to assist storm victims in Bertie County and its neighbors.

Travel trailers are being prepared this week to provide temporary housing for some Bertie County families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the tornado. County officials are hopeful those trailers will be ready for occupancy next week.

Bertie officials have applied for state/federal Public Assistance and Individual Assistance funding.

The Bertie Tax Office, joined by other county staff, continues their work to accurately assess the total amount of damage inflicted by the hurricane and tornado.

“We now just want to ensure as much accuracy as possible before we place a dollar figure on the storm damage, especially as it relates to the hardest hit area in the Cedar Landing community,” a county official stated on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Donation Center located in the gym at Bertie Early College High School on NC 308 just west of Windsor will remain open (weekdays from 10 am until 3 pm) for storm victims to pick up essential items. The county is no longer accepting any new donations of items. However, volunteers are still needed to assist at the front desk of the Donation Center as well sorting through and organizing donations. Call 252-794-5300 to learn more about how to become a volunteer.

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-3 tornado traveled 10 miles from the Woodard community in Bertie County to Windsor and reached peak wind speeds of 140 to 145 miles per hour in the early morning hours of Aug. 4. The storm destroyed many homes in the Morning Road area and killed two people. It also caused extensive damage to homes and property along Woodard Road.

 

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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