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SBA offers loans for damage from April tornado

Storm left 3.5-mile trail of damage from San Marco to Englewood

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People living along a 3½-mile stretch from San Marco to Englewood who suffered damage from the EF-1 tornado on April 25 can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration starting Monday.

According to the National Weather Service, the tornado with winds of 104 mph developed along the eastern shore of the St. Johns River and moved east-southeast, taking down trees and power lines and damaging home and businesses in its path.

The SBA opened a disaster loan outreach center Monday at the  Henry T. Jones Community Center at 3856 Grant Road for residents and business owners to get answers about the loan program and receive help completing applications. The center will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday The center will end services at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday, May 19.

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SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said the loans became available in response to Gov. Rick Scott's disaster declaration. The declaration covers Duval County and the adjacent counties of Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties

Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA, to make improvements that help prevent the risk of future property damage caused by a similar disaster.

"Businesses of any size and nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets," said Wilfredo Gonzalez, SBA's district director in Jacksonville.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers economic injury disaster loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.

"Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property," said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA's Field Operations Center East.

Interest rates are as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 1.688 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amount 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 via SBA's secure website.

Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA's Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded at sba.gov/disaster. Completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.