Photo by Christina Santucci
By Steve Mosco

Almost one month after Superstorm Sandy rocked the region with reckless abandon, businesses and individuals are still facing a formidable slog down the road to financial recovery.

And federal agencies are staying in Queens into the foreseeable future to make sure everyone gets the help they need.

The U.S. Small Business Administration, working in tandem with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, set up several disaster recovery centers in the borough to help with aid and to guide victims through the disaster loan process, helping them find out what kind of assistance they are eligible to receive.

The federal agencies were working with small business people and individuals from a temporary headquarters at Manducatis Rustica, at 45-35 Vernon Blvd. in Long Island City, Monday.

“We want them to know we are here in Queens and we will be here for a while,” said Nycholas Hynes, a public information officer with SBA. “We have loans for businesses and people — each category has different kinds of loans with different requirements.”

Hynes said while SBA only planned to stay at Manducatis for two days , many other pop-up recovery centers will appear along with the semi-permanent offices that have been set up throughout Queens.

SBA’s semi-permanent locations include the Small Business Development Center at York College, at 94-50 159th St. in Jamaica; LaGuardia Community College in Suite BA02, at 30-20 Thompson Ave. in Long Island City; and the Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corp., at 19-20 Mott Ave. in Far Rockaway.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster-damaged or -destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster-damaged or -destroyed personal property.

Businesses and private nonprofits of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or -destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. And the SBA may also increase a loan by up to 20 percent if a business owner wants to take steps to prevent property damage by future disasters of the same kind.

Disaster loans for businesses can be acquired for physical damage, but also for financial damage incurred by businesses unable to reopen in a timely manner following the storm.

Interest rates are as low as 1.688 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for nonprofits and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

“The U.S. Small Business Administration is strongly committed to providing the people of New York with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist homeowners, renters and businesses with federal disaster loans,” said SBA administrator Karen G. Mills. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

SBA advises customers to go to sba.gov/Sandy or call 1-800-659-2955 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for the latest information for guidance and assistance.

To be considered for all forms of FEMA disaster assistance, applicants should register online at disasterassistance.gov or by mobile device at m.fema.gov.

If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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