North Texas residents whose property was damaged in September during Tropical Storm Hermine may apply for low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration.
Gov. Rick Perry announced Wednesday that the SBA granted his request to provide federal disaster assistance to Tarrant, Bell and Williamson counties, where storm damage was greatest.
The agency decree means that the neighboring counties of Johnson, Parker, Wise, Denton, Dallas, Ellis, Bastrop, Burnet, Coryell, Falls, Lampasas, Lee, McLennan, Milam and Travis are also eligible.
"Tropical Storm Hermine dealt a significant blow to our state and left many Texans in need of financial assistance to help rebuild their homes, businesses and communities," Perry said. "Texas is grateful for assistance from the SBA, which will help get local families and businesses back on their feet."
Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for residential damage. Renters and homeowners may borrow up to $40,000 for personal property losses and have until Jan. 10 to apply. The loans are typically for 30 years and available at low interest rates.
"The loans are for uninsured or underinsured individuals," SBA spokesman Ben Raju said.
Businesses and nonprofit organizations may also apply for loans up to $2 million for replacing or repairing "real estate assets, machinery and equipment, business inventory and other business assets damaged in the storm," according to the governor's office.
Businesses have until Aug. 9 to apply.
"The big thing is, don't disqualify yourself," Raju said. "There is no obligation, no cost. Once you do it, you will know what's available to you. But if you don't apply within the deadline, you won't have an opportunity to apply later."
'Better than nothing'
The Sept. 8 storm hit west Arlington particularly hard. At least 129 homes and 68 units at the Willows at Shady Valley condominiums were inundated. Most of the homes are along Rush Creek near Pioneer Parkway and Green Oaks Boulevard. At least 11 will likely be demolished because of flood damage.
Mayor Robert Cluck said Wednesday that he is still disappointed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Perry's appeal for a federal disaster declaration, which would have made the city and affected residents eligible for federal grant funding.
"It's better than nothing, but it's still a loan," Cluck said. "We certainly would have rather had a different outcome."
Arlington is applying for numerous grants from FEMA that could be used to buy out flood-prone homes along Rush Creek. It could be at least six months before the city learns whether any money will be awarded.
West Arlington resident Dick Barry said he and his neighbors who were flooded by Rush Creek are pleased with the news about the SBA loans. Barry and his wife have been living upstairs in their Southpark Drive home while repairing the water damage. Some of his neighbors aren't as fortunate.
"A lot of people are going to have to borrow money to make ends meet, particularly since a lot of money they have spent has gone into temporary housing," said Barry, a spokesman for the dozens of flood victims on Southpark, Woodland Park Boulevard, Woodridge, Valleycrest and Creekside drives.
"They have had to pay for hotels, motels. Certainly they are going to need money."
Barry said his family might consider a loan to replace some of their belongings and a vehicle not fully covered by flood insurance.
In Sansom Park, City Hall was condemned because most of the building was flooded with about 8 inches of water, affecting all but two offices. The heavy rain brought by Hermine overwhelmed the drainage system.
"We would like to take advantage of the program," said Karen Bulyard, city administrator. "We don't know how much we are eligible to receive."
The loan would be used to build a new City Hall.
Staff writer Elizabeth Campbell contributed to this report.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698