Federal officials Friday issued a disaster declaration for Florida as a result of last month’s flooding, giving Palm Beach County residents with damaged homes the chance to apply for low-interest loans to help pay for repairs.
Federal officials will open a Disaster Recovery Center on Wednesday at the Hagen Ranch Road Library in suburban Delray Beach to help residents and business owners apply for the loans.
Residents can also apply for an SBA loan by calling (800) 659-2955 or registering online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Assistant County Administrator Vince Bonvento said it was unclear how many residents are in need of federal assistance. County officials also will be at the recovery center, at 1435o Hagen Ranch Road between Atlantic Avenue and Lake Ida Road, to provide counseling to residents and help find other assistance for those who don’t qualify for the federal loans, he added.
Bonvento said he and his staff wanted the SBA to issue the declaration as soon as possible. Some residents whose homes were damaged by the flooding have been forced to use their savings to make repairs. Many of those residents are senior citizens and on a fixed income, he added.
“We know people are using their savings to make repairs,” he said.
With this declaration, homeowners could qualify for SBA loans of up to $200,000 to pay for repairs and an additional $40,000 to replace personal property. Renters also can qualify for $40,000 loans for personal property replacements.
Applicants would have up to 30 years to repay the loans, and most would qualify for a 2.25 percent interest rate, according to SBA officials. Some homeowners or renters with additional assets could have interest rates increased to 4.5 percent.
It usually takes about 10-12 days for residents to be notified if they have been approved for the loan, said Michael Lampton, public affairs director for the SBA disaster office in Atlanta.
After the torrential rainfall Jan. 9 and 10, many residents were left with up to two two feet of water in their homes and entire communities — many of them in southern Palm Beach County, near the recovery center — were inaccessible by cars because of overflowing drainage and lakes.
In Boynton Beach, the intersection of Congress Avenue and Gateway Boulevard was shut down for almost 24 hours because of the flooding.