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Low-interest loans will assist homeowners with flood damages

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Small Business Administration loans

Residents and businesses in Armstrong, Allegheny, Butler, Clarion, Indiana, Jefferson and Westmoreland counties can apply for low-interest Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance loans at the Armsdale Administration Building, 124 Armsdale Road, Rayburn Township, today through Oct. 3 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The office will be open Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.

Applications are available at www.sba.gov/disaster and can be returned to the Armsdale Administrative Building or sent to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, Texas, 76155.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 25, and the economic injury application deadline is June 24, 2014.

For more information, call 1-800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

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Flood victims can begin applying for low-interest loans through the Small Business Administration starting today to cover costs of damages from the storms of Aug. 28 through Sept. 3.

Business owners and residents can apply for loans at the Armsdale Administrative Building, 124 Armsdale Road, off Route 85 in Rayburn, through Oct. 3 or online through Nov. 25.

The SBA Disaster Declaration was approved for Armstrong, Allegheny, Butler, Clarion, Indiana, Jefferson and Westmoreland counties, allowing homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans, according to Jeanne Hulit, acting SBA administrator.

More than 200 homes were affected by flooding, but the damage was not enough to qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance, according to Randy Brozenick, Armstrong County director of public safety.

The Red Cross assisted 10 families, made up of 21 people, with shelter, and 12 families, made up of 39 people, with food. Clothing was provided to 32 people.

Brozenick said county officials identified 25 homes or businesses with at least 40 percent of their flood damage not covered by insurance, an assessment required by the SBA for the declaration.

“This process took a lot of work, and I'm just glad we were able to get it,” Brozenick said. “This will at least give our residents help — it may not be a lot, but at least it is something to help recover from the flood.”

The loans provide up to $200,000 for homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, or up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged personal property.

Loan applicants are eligible for a loan increase of up to 20 percent of physical damages to make improvements to prevent future flood damage, according to Hulit.

Interest rates dip as low as 1.937 percent for homeowners and renters, 2.875 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses, with terms up to 30 years. Interest rates are based on each applicant's financial status.

The loans are the only type of disaster relief coming to the area, other than services provided by non-profit agencies, such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, Brozenick said.

Brozenick said the SBA process works like any other loan — those interested must apply by visiting the Armsdale Building or by going online to www.sba.gov/disaster and filling out an application. Once accepted, residents and businesses can decide if the loan is the right decision for their situation, he said.

“I've heard from a lot of residents who have been waiting for assistance, and I just hope people will come out and take advantage of these loans,” Brozenick said. “They might not want it after they apply, but it'd be worth looking at what it could do for them.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337.

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