Members of FEMA and the Small Business Administration are urging Scotch Plains business owners and residents whose homes and stores suffered damage during Superstorm Sandy to apply for assistance whether or not they have heard back from their insurance companies.
According to Jessica Paul, the public affairs specialist of the Small Business Administration, oftentimes people do not file because they are waiting for a settlement from their insurance company.
At the Dec. 5 meeting set up by the Scotch Plains Office of Emergency management for businesses to meet with FEMA and SBA, Paul told those in attendance that SBA works with the insurance company so there will never be an overlap of funds.
How to apply: Businesses, Homeowners and Renters can apply through FEMA for disaster assistance by calling 1-800-621-3362 or visiting www.diaster.gov. (Approximations are accepted). FEMA will then send applicants to SBA and SBA will send the application to the individual.
To date 158,149 SBA applications have been sent out, 33,790 of which have been sent to businesses. However, only 6,486 of those applications have been returned, said Paul.
She also stated that one of the largest problems is seeing those applications returned because many people self-qualify themselves and believe they do not have the credit for it or won’t see a return that is worth it.
Scotch Plains Police Chief Brian Mahoney said if you don’t apply, you will never know what you’re entitled to.
In Union County, 21,234 applications have been filed with FEMA. Throughout the entire state of New Jersey 241,270 applications have been filed and already 280 million dollars has been disbursed, according to Maria Padron FEMA spokeswoman for Union and Hudson counties
Paul added that is important for applicants to fill out the SBA application and return it because even if the applicant does not qualify they are then returned back to FEMA for other assistance.
For homeowners and renters, SBA provides loans with interest rates as low as 1.688 percent, which are payable for up to 30 years.
For business owners, SBA provides loans with two components, the first component is physical and the second is economical. For example, structural damage, ruined equipment and inventory fall under physical, while money lost while closed is economical.
SBA loans for non-profits have interest rates as low as 3 percent and other businesses as low as 4 percent, these loans are also payable for up to 30 years.
The process is applicant driven and if at anytime an individual feels they no longer need or want the loan, they can choose not to accept it, Paul said.
Deidre Calloway, Community Relations Representative for FEMA said that Union County residents could visit the Disaster Recovery Centers in Linden and Plainfield for assistance with their applications.
The deadline to apply for assistance through FEMA or SBA is Dec. 31.
Additionally, employees can file for Disaster Unemployment Assistance through Feb. 4. This process works as filing for unemployment does. Your application will be denied and you will have to appeal it as part of the process. Call 732-761-2220 or 201-601-4100 for assistance in filing for Disaster Unemployment.
FEMA also offers Crisis Counseling Assistance 1-800-985-5990 and Free Legal Advice 888-541-1900. The operations hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.