First Resident Applies for Disaster Relief Loan

By Max Resnik

August 7, 2012 Updated Aug 7, 2012 at 5:52 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – The Small Business Administration’s disaster relief loan program opened its doors at the Public Safety Academy Tuesday morning, and its first applicant is awaiting approval for her loan.

Open to business owners, homeowners and renters in the Northeast Indiana area as well as business owners, homeowners and renters from Defiance, Paulding and Van Wert, Ohio, the SBA is offering low interest loans in the wake of a disaster declaration from the June 29 storms that ripped across the Midwest and through the east coast. In Fort Wayne, straight line winds reached 91 mph, causing damage to homes and trees across the Summit City.

The first Fort Wayne resident to apply for a loan because of damage to her home was Tamara Reamer. She says she has battled with her insurance company on estimates for her roof damage, saying she and her family are facing close to $20,000 in damages. Five weeks removed from the rain and ripping winds that broke her air conditioner amid the drought, Reamer says life has been difficult.

“It’s been a living—absolute living nightmare. I mean, unfortunately we’re not dealing directly with the insurance company. We have to deal with the insurance adjustors, and they have to go through their bosses to go to our insurance company. I mean it took—it’s just been very difficult. Like I said, they’ve been fighting us almost every step of the way.”

Tuesday, Reamer applied for a loan with an interest rate of 1.9 percent to restore her home. She was the first of what is expected to many residents to fill out the application. Gus Fernanadez, who has been with the SBA as a field operations specialist for 20 years, says there are never enough people who take advantage of loan offers. He says loans are made to business owners, homeowners and renters based on credit history.

"It's predicated on the payment ability. We could make it up to 30 years. The lowest interest rate is 1.93 percent, and it's for the life of the loan. If you need a loan for up to $200,000 for the homes or $2 million for the businesses, that's what's available."

Fernandez says the SBA loans will cover everything from property damages to appliances inside a home or business and even clothing lost in a storm. He says people who do not qualify for loans will be re-directed to a state grant program to help cover damage costs.

Reamer says that while she worked relentlessly to restore her home through the insurance company, she has learned that she can only rely on herself to get the job done. Reamer says she hopes others with property damage five weeks after June 29’s storm realize the same thing.

"If there's something out there, you've got to jump on it because like I said, there's nobody else out there that is going to do that for you."

The SBA will take about 24 hours to approve loans. Then, an inspector from the SBA will be sent to a home or business for an assessment of the damage. From there, money is sent to approved applicants.

For more information on interest rates and loan guidelines click here.

The SBA will be open at the Public Safety Academy at 7602 Patriot Crossing during the following times:

August 7-10: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
August 11: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
August 12: Closed
August 13-16: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

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