SBA OKs $800K In McLean County Emergency Flood Loans; Over Half Denied
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved $808,400 in loans to homeowners in and around McLean County whose property was damaged by flooding in late June.
County, state and federal officials provided an update Wednesday on government assistance following the flooding that led to a McLean County disaster declaration. The SBA made the low-interest, long-term loans available to eligible home and business owners in McLean and neighboring counties.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said the SBA approved 23 loans as of Monday and has received 66 applications.
Cathy Beck, McLean County Acting Emergency Management Agency director, added 28 applications were denied and 15 others were still under review. Beck said six businesses applied for loans; three have been denied and three are under review.
Beck noted applicants have to meet income and credit requirements.
“It is a loan, so unfortunately, there’s going to be minimum things that are required because they want their money back,” said Beck, adding the guidelines are less stringent than those at a traditional bank.
Beck estimated more than 2,000 homes and businesses were damaged during the late June storms, but she said the total number of damaged properties is likely much higher. Beck said there isn’t a cost estimate available. The county attempted to get a federal disaster declaration, but did not meet the damage threshold.
Davis said he's disappointed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied a disaster declaration that would have made more financial help available, adding FEMA’s formula makes it nearly impossible for less populated areas to receive disaster relief.
“Almost every disaster downstate will not reach that threshold unless FEMA starts to do what my law says they should do — take into consideration localized impacts,” Davis said. “They didn’t do it in this case and that’s unfortunate.”
Davis noted the SBA loans are to cover damage not covered through private insurance.
State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, said the SBA and Illinois Emergency Management Agency have been responsive following the storms, but he plans to look for ways to lower damage thresholds for uninsured losses to give residents better options.
“It’s been a joint effort between state and federal resources trying to find help,” Brady said. “Yes, it’s frustrating because it’s trying to find that needle in the haystack that meet the right criteria for these people.”
The City of Bloomington plans to study ways it can provide direct aid to homeowners who suffered damages in the June flooding. Dozens of residents have complained about raw sewage filling their basements. The city's insurer denied most claims due to what it considered an "Act of God" weather event. Parts of McLean County received more than 10 inches of rain in less than three days from June 25-27.
Brady thanked laborers and other volunteers who helped with cleanup and damage assessments. “That’s where this volunteer help and the expertise of individuals like the laborers that have gone out and at least helped to assess has been a lifeline for some of these people that have fallen between the cracks,” he said.
The deadline to apply for loan to cover physical damages is Sept. 24. The SBA’s economic recovery loan applications will be available until April 26, 2022. Applications are available on the SBA website or by calling its toll-free number (800-658-2955).