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Flooding near Plattsmouth, 3.16

BNSF locomotives sit submerged in Platte River floodwaters near Plattsmouth on Saturday.

If you have a small business in any of the 15 counties under the federal disaster declaration that has either been damaged by or lost business because of last month's flooding and winter storm, the U.S. Small Business Administration has a program to assist you.

If you have a small business in any county touching the 15 declared counties that has lost business because of the flood, the SBA can help you, too — with its low-interest loans.

“If the businesses are feeling a pinch with their cash flow, we can give them the necessary funds to get them through,” said SBA public information officer Garth MacDonald.

The SBA also offers long-term loans for businesses that are aimed at getting them back as closely as possible to their pre-disaster status. Businesses may borrow up to $2 million to repair/replace disaster property damage.

The SBA emergency programs, which are funded and dispersed differently than the agency’s standard loans, also are available to private nonprofits that meet eligibility requirements and to individuals to help cover losses that aren’t covered by insurance, FEMA or other grants or other sources.

Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property, including vehicles.

The interest rate on the SBA loans for most homeowners and renters is as low as 2.063% fixed; for businesses 4% and for private nonprofits 2.75%.

Businesses and residents can apply for the loans at the SBA’s secure website, disasterloan.sba.gov/ela, by phone at 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Or, ideally, apply in person at one of the FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers — in Fremont, Valley, Plattsmouth and Bellevue or at the SBA’s Business Recovery Center at Bellevue University, 812 Bruin Blvd.

There is no cost to apply for the loan and no obligations to take any loan. The loans may be repaid at any time.

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Individuals who apply for FEMA disaster assistance are encouraged to make an SBA loan application. Doing so, FEMA media relations specialist Renee Bafalis said, will keep the entire federal disaster recovery assistance program functioning for the applicant.

FEMA will, for example, look at an applicant’s ability to pay back additional debt in determining the aid it can provide and will often refer the applicant to the SBA for loans.

“They should immediately file with us,” MacDonald said. “That starts the process. Clean up the house, apply to FEMA right away, apply to SBA right away.”

Applicants for disaster assistance should have the following information on hand when making an application: Social Security number, addresses of the primary residence and/or business, a description of the damage, information about insurance coverage, a contact telephone number and bank account and routing numbers for direct deposits of funds.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or kwolgamott@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSWolgamott.

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Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott is an entertainment reporter and columnist.

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