PEMBROKE, Ga. (WSAV) – Relief is on the way for residents and businesses impacted by the storm system that swept across the Coastal Empire earlier this month, bringing a deadly tornado to Bryan County.

Those affected can now apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced Monday.

According to the SBA, Guzman made the loans available in response to a letter from Gov. Brian Kemp on April 20 requesting a disaster declaration by the agency.

The declaration includes Bryan County and the adjacent Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham, Evans and Liberty counties.

The SBA opened its Disaster Loan Outreach Center Tuesday at the Pembroke Police Department (154 Railroad Street).

Karon Bacon was second in line to make his application, saying he’s been out of business for three weeks.

“It took the roof off my building,” Bacon said. “I’ve got a lot of water damage.”

He’s hoping for quick approval, saying he has five employees he can’t pay.

The SBA disaster loans apply to physical damages (real estate, inventory, equipment, etc.) and economic injury, (working capital, no physical damages needed to apply), homeowners (up to $200,000 for primary residence) and homeowner/renters (up to $40,000 for personal property).

“These loans are a really good opportunity for people,” said Jack Camp with the SBA. “Our interest rates are as low as 1.4 percent for homeowners and renters and, yes, I did say homeowners and renters. The Small Business Administration helps homeowners and renters in a disaster. For businesses, the rates are as low as 2.94 percent.”

The deadline to file for physical property damage is June 21, 2022, while economic injury applications must be submitted by Jan. 23, 2023.

The outreach center will operate at the Pembroke Police Department from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Assistance will also be available on two Saturdays — April 30 and May 7 — from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., though the center will be closed on Sundays.

Applications can also be completed online at DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov (apply under SBA declaration # 17418).

Application forms can also be obtained by calling 800-659-2955, emailing DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov or downloading a loan application at this link to be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration Processing and Disbursement Center (14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, Texas, 76155).

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