Posted: 7:00 p.m. Monday, June 23, 2014

Few disaster loans approved so far; officials urge more to apply



By Tiffany Y. Latta

Staff Writer

The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved just six home loans in the Miami Valley since declaring Clark County a disaster area earlier this month and is urging more residents to apply for assistance.

The SBA has received 27 applications, but has approved just one home loan in Clark County for $4,600. The other five home loans approved were in Miami County and total about $140,400, according to SBA officials.

Richard C. Daigle, a spokesman for the SBA, said the deadline for residents to apply is Aug. 4.

“By applying it gives them more options in the recovery process. The sooner they apply, the sooner we can get them some help,” Daigle said.

The SBA declared Clark County a disaster area as a result of the May 21-22 thunderstorm that caused flooding at the Laynecrest Manor apartment complex in Medway and other homes and businesses. More than 100 area residents were displaced.

The declaration allowed residents and businesses in Clark, Champaign, Greene, Madison, Miami and Montgomery counties that incurred uninsured losses during the storm to apply for long-term, low-interest loans.

Businesses are eligible for disaster loans of up to $2 million to replace or repair real estate, inventory, equipment and other assets, while homeowners are eligible for loans of up to $200,000 to repair and replace real estate. Homeowners and renters can also receive up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Clark County Emergency Management Agency Director Lisa D’Allessandris said most families impacted by the storm in Clark County have a low income and do not qualify for disaster loan assistance.

Daigle said approval for the SBA loan is based on multiple factors, including income, assets, debt and credit scores.

“It’s not just one single number and you’re approved,” Daigle said.

Daigle said anyone who has applied for a disaster loan can appeal the SBA’s decision.

“If approved, they have control of whether to accept all of it, some of it or none of it. If they need more (assistance) they can appeal … If someone applies and they are declined, they can appeal,” Daigle said.

Donna Wendling, 48, said she and her husband applied for a SBA loan and are still waiting to learn if they will get approved. Wendling lost nearly everything in the flood, including her car, which was submerged in water.

A second vehicle the couple has was also under water and now has electrical problems. She said while driving it recently on Ohio 235, the driver-side airbag deployed and she had to be taken to the hospital by squad.

“I just feel lucky I’m alive,” Wendling said. “… It’s definitely been a test. You have to remain strong and don’t give up.”

Wendling said her family found a new apartment, but they still need furniture and other items to get back on their feet.

“Our needs are still furniture, a bed, dressers, night stands. Just the basics. A dining room set. We have temporary things that we’re using right now,” Wendling said.

Jan Cummings, who is on disability and receives Social Security benefits, said she and her husband were denied the SBA loan. Cummings said she will not appeal the SBA’s decision.

“We couldn’t understand it. We thought we should have been compensated for the stuff we lost. I was upset. We lost everything and that stuff is going to take us years to replace,” Cummings said.

Cummings said an external pacemaker she uses survived the flood, but the Red Cross helped replace a breathing machine she uses for asthma. She also said rent at her new apartment is more expensive than at Laynecrest and her family is now relying on food pantries to make ends meet.

Cummings and Wendling said they plan to try to get help from the newly formed Clark County Long Term Recovery Committee, which will connect residents with case workers to determine their ongoing, unmet needs.

The LTRC will meet with residents beginning Wednesday from noon-4 p.m. and from noon-8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Bethel Twp. Fire Station, 3333 Lake Road in Medway.

“Life as we know it still isn’t back to normal … A lot of people are stuck and they really can’t go anywhere. Their lives are in turmoil,” Cummings said.


How to get help

For more information about SBA disaster loans, call 1-800-659-2955 or visit www.sba.gov/disaster.

To get more information about the Clark County Long Term Recovery Committee, call 2-1-1.

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has provided unmatched, continuing coverage of the May 21-22 severe thunderstorm that displaced more than 100 residents.

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