By Dixon Land
A disaster recovery center has opened in Nashville to help those whose homes or businesses were affected by the May 10 tornado.
The center is operating from the Carter Day Training Center at 200 Lake Nichols Drive just north of Nashville Elementary School. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in conjunction with the Small Business Association (SBA), is offering monetary assistance to those affected by the tornado. The associations are here at the request of Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
“We do work in part with the state as far as the invitation of the state,” Earl Armstrong, public information officer for FEMA said. “They [people affected by the tornado] can ask questions, they can ask about ways to reduce damages for future events.”
Before assistance can be given, persons with damage from the tornado must first register with FEMA. Registration can be done online, at www.disasterassistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing impaired. The toll free numbers operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Multilingual operators are also available.
Representatives from both FEMA and the SBA will be available at the disaster recovery center from Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Each disaster recovery center has assistive technology for people with disabilities as well.
“They come in, they register, they determine who they need to see and then they get put with the right person to talk with them and that person will try to answer all of their questions,” Armstrong said.
Personal property up to $40,000 and for homeowners, up to $200,000 can be given by the SBA in the form of low-interest rate loans to uncompensated needs of those affected by the tornado. For businesses, the loan can reach up to $2 million with a 4 percent interest rate. Kumar says that the loan can be fixed for up to 30 years depending on the specific person’s situation.
Counties affected that qualify for help from FEMA and the SBA are Crawford, Garland, Howard, Jefferson, Little River, Miller, Perry, Sebastian and Sevier.
Kumar and Armstrong said that the disaster relief center would be around until there is no longer a need. Working at the request of the governor, FEMA and the SBA will continue to provide need to affected businesses, rentals, homeowners and non-profits until told otherwise.
“We are here as a recovery center at the governor’s request,” Kumar said. “Until we are told otherwise, we are here.”
The SBA, which works with FEMA on all disaster relief throughout the country, is considered a partner organization with FEMA to provide relief.
“The local municipality along with local services puts together paperwork for the government; the government then contacts FEMA and the SBA,” Armstrong said.
“Then they do what they call a preliminary damage assessment and then at that time, FEMA approves it and the government looks at the numbers and the governor either says that they need to ask for a declaration or they might say that they don’t think there is enough. The governor is the only one who can ask for a disaster declaration,” Kumar added.
One qualification that is different to note: if FEMA doesn’t approve the request, the SBA still has the option to provide relief.
When asked about the likelihood of people receiving assistance, Kumar was quick to mention that almost everyone that applies for help gets it.
“The surefire answer of people being turned away are times when you’re a delinquent on child support payment or any federal debt. Tax debt, or if you have any other creditor, as long as you have a game-plan of repayment in place, your eligibility is considered, but we encourage everyone to apply,” Kumar said.
For more information on SBA programs, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by phone at (800)-659-2955, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.sba.gov/disaster. Hearing impaired individuals may call (800)-877-8339.