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Tornado-damaged businesses seek help as centers open their doors

Published: Thursday, June 20, 2019 @ 2:16 PM

Residents wait Thursday at the Harrison Twp. Small Business Administration disaster assistance center. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
Residents wait Thursday at the Harrison Twp. Small Business Administration disaster assistance center. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

The U.S. Small Business Administration is throwing Miami Valley businesses and homeowners an economic lifeline, and some of those affected by the Memorial Day tornadoes are beginning to grab it.

The Trump administration approved FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) disaster assistance to a swath of Western Ohio counties this week, including Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Darke and six other counties.

With that assistance, the SBA opened twin disaster assistance centers in Harrison Twp. and Beavercreek on Thursday, centers that will will operate 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays hereafter for an undetermined period of time.

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“We expect to be busy, based upon the numbers,” said Dorris Evans, an SBA spokeswoman working at the Harrison Twp. Community Center on Thursday.

Jack Koogler, owner of J&J Transportation Specialists Inc., waited at the Harrison Twp. center to speak with an SBA staffer. His shop at 1845 Troy St. and vehicles parked there on the evening of May 27 suffered tremendous damage, he said.

A driver working at the property that night watched a “neighbor’s roof” tear through the business property, striking an adjacent building, said Koogler, a Tipp City resident.

“It’s pretty much a mess,” he said, adding: “I’m more fortunate than a lot of them.”

Some 30 customers’ vehicles at the site suffered damage, with two trailers and a “high-value truck” being destroyed, Koogler said.

Koogler has insurance, but he needs help beyond that, he said.

“It’s going to take a little bit more than insurance,” he said.

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SBA loans are meant to cover losses not covered by insurance. The deadline to apply for SBA loans for physical damage from the tornadoes is August 19. For businesses suffering long-term economic injury due to the May 27 tornadoes, the loan application deadline is March 18, 2020.

When in doubt, apply for loans is the repeated advice SBA representatives are giving residents: Homeowners can get loans for up to $200,000 for repair (or replacement) of real estate and $40,000 for personal property, including cars.

Businesses may receive loans up to $2 million for repair or replacement of real estate and up to $2 million to deal with economic injuries due to disasters.

Evans could not say how long the assistance centers would be open. That depends on the volume of applicants.

But she said loan applications in the Dayton area are being “expedited.”

“Submit the loan application and get the process started,” Evans said.

Bobby Sing, owner of Liberty motel, off Keats Drive, also at the Harrison Twp. assistance center Thursday, said his hotel is out of commission as he struggles to get gas and electric service restored. About 10 of his 30 rooms were “destroyed,” he said.

The Harrison Twp. assistance center is at 5945 N. Dixie Drive. The Beavercreek center is at 3210 Beaver-Vu Drive. Both offices are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, closed weekends.

To be considered for assistance, applicants are asked to register online at DisasterAssistance.gov.

They may also call FEMA at (800) 621-3362.