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Federal loans available for victims of recent storms

February 3, 2011 |  3:38 pm

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2010-12/58437174.jpg

The federal Small Business Administration announced Thursday that it will make low-interest loans available to California homes and businesses damaged in recent heavy rainstorms.

The region was hit by a series of storms from Dec. 17 through Jan. 4, making homes and businesses in the following counties eligible for loans: Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.

Homeowners and renters may apply for up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. They also may qualify for up to $40,000 in loans for personal property damage. The interest rate is fixed at 2.25% for up to 30 years.

Businesses may qualify for up to $2 million at 4%. They also may apply for working capital for expenses that accrued while they were closed because of storm damage.

“Most of the loans go to homeowners,” said Richard Jenkins, a public information officer for the agency. “There are many more homeowners affected by disasters than businesses because there are simply more of them.”

The loan program represents a substantial consolation prize after the Obama administration concluded last week that property owners would not receive grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

But local governments in the hardest-hit areas have qualified for federal aid, which can be used to offset repairs for roads, bridges and other public assets. Officials estimated that there was more than $75.5 million in damage to infrastructure.

The tally of private losses include two homes destroyed and 19 with major damage in San Bernardino County. Four businesses also sustained major damage.

In Orange County, 18 homes and seven businesses sustained major damage, according to state emergency officials.

Starting Tuesday, customer service representatives will be on hand at local SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Centers to assist with the application process.

The center in Laguna Beach will operate out of the Chamber of Commerce offices at 357 Glenneyre St. In Highland in San Bernardino County, the center will be at the Highland Family YMCA at 7793 Central Ave.

RELATED:

Obama declares disaster over December flooding, freeing funds for California

-- Howard Blume

Photo: Damage in city of Highland. Credit: L.A. Times

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