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SBA disaster assistance available for victims of Easter earthquake

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Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to California residents and business owners affected by the April 4 Sierra El Mayor earthquake.

The U.S. Small Business Administration acted under its own authority to declare the disaster in response to a request received from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on April 16.

The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in Imperial, Riverside and San Diego counties, and the neighboring Arizona counties of La Paz and Yuma.

"The U. S. Small Business Administration is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist those residents and businesses affected by the earthquake with Federal disaster loans," said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. "Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA."

"Low-interest Federal disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations whose property was damaged or destroyed by the disaster," said Ruben R. Garcia, SBA’s San Diego District Director. "Beginning Thursday, April 22 at 10 a.m., SBA customer service representatives will be on hand ... to issue loan applications, answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each individual complete their application."

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 up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses of any size and private, 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. SBA can also lend additional funds to homeowners and businesses to help with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.

Interest rates can be as low as 2.625 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for private, nonprofit organizations, and 4 percent for businesses, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based upon each applicant’s financial condition.

Disaster loan information and application forms are available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling SBA toll-free at (800) 659-2955, e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Hearing impaired individuals may call (800) 877-8339. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

The filing deadline to return applications for property damage is June 21. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Jan. 21, 2011.

Where to go:

Calexico Disaster Loan Outreach Center: Calexico City Hall, 608 Heber Ave.

Opens Thursday, April 22 at 10 a.m.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Will be closed Friday, April 30 only)

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El Centro Local Assistance Center: Central Baptist Church, 1290 S. Imperial Ave.

Opens Thursday, April 22 at 10 a.m.

Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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