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More counties declared disaster; SBA opens Center

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — An amendment has been made to the Sept. 1 federal disaster declaration, adding the following 13 counties to the list of declared disaster areas from Hurricane Isaac damages: Adams, Amite, Clarke, Forrest, George, Hinds, Lincoln, Marion, Pike, Stone, Walthall, Warren and Wilkinson.

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security has begun accepting applications for Disaster Unemployment Assistance from those living or working in these 13 counties.

Affected workers included in these new counties have until Oct. 10 to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

On Sept. 4, 2012, MDES announced Disaster Unemployment Assistance was available in Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Pearl River counties.  Workers in these counties have until Oct. 4 to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

Self-employed individuals, who were living or working in the affected areas at the time of the major disaster, and those who are unemployed as a result of the major disaster, may be eligible for DUA. In addition, those who were unable to reach their jobs, because the disaster prevented their travel, or who were scheduled to begin employment, but the disaster prevented them from doing so, may apply.

Eligible to apply for DUA are individuals who:  (1) became the major support for a household because of the disaster-related death of the head of the household; (2) cannot work because of an injury caused as a direct result of the disaster; (3) could not work or lost work as a result of physical damage or destruction of a business; (4) and, are unable to work because of the physical inaccessibility of the place of employment due to its closure by the federal government.

Individuals in all 17 of the Hurricane Isaac disaster declaration counties in Mississippi can apply online at www.mdes.ms.gov or by calling toll-free, 1-888-844-3577.

In a separate but related item, the U.S. Small Business Administration has opened a Business Recovery Center in Gulfport. This Center provides one-on-one help to business owners seeking disaster assistance for losses caused by Isaac. It is located in the SBA Gulfport Branch Office in the Hancock Bank Plaza, 2510 14th Street, Suite 103. The hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday

Businesses and non-profit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

The SBA may increase a loan up to 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate and/or leasehold improvements, as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private non-profit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.  Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Interest rates are as low as 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years.  Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 800-621-FEMA (3362), (TTY) 800-462-7585 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Additional details on the locations of Disaster Recovery Centers and the loan application process can be obtained by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Oct. 31. The deadline to return economic injury applications is May 30, 2013.

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