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Disaster declaration clears way for loans for windstorm victims

Homeowners, renters and business owners hit hard in a July windstorm may be eligible for federal help.

The U.S. Small Business Association announced Wednesday it has granted a disaster declaration for the July 23 storm that hit Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The SBA will offer low-interest loans to those with damaged homes, businesses or property. “Our neighbors spent a lifetime creating their homes and businesses which were erased in mere minutes by this powerful windstorm,” said Gov. Jay Inslee in a prepared statement. “I’m pleased that they now qualify for important federal programs that will help them get back on their feet.”

The July 23 windstorm destroyed 53 homes in Eastern Washington, Inslee’s office said.

“This has been an unusually devastating summer for Washington, which has stretched our state’s ability to respond to those who need our help,” the governor’s statement said.

Representatives from the SBA will open a disaster loan outreach center today at the New Hope Resource Center, 4211 E. Colbert Road. The center will be open 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays through Sept. 11. The loans are available to residents of Spokane, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Whitman counties as well as Benewah, Bonner and Kootenai counties in Idaho.

Residents do not need to bring photos or other documentation of damage to the outreach center, said Yolanda Stokes, SBA public information officer.

“We will help them fill out the application and then go from there,” Stokes said. “We actually send out our own loan verifiers to assess the damage.”

Interest rates on the loans can be as low as 2.2 percent for up to 30 years. Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged real estate. Renters and homeowners are eligible for up to $40,000 to replace personal property, which can include everything from clothing to furniture to cars. Businesses can borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged buildings, equipment or inventory.

Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke, who represents northern Spokane County, which was hit hard in the storm, said he is pleased that the federal loans will be available for those affected by the storm.

He has been visiting areas in his district damaged by storms in recent weeks, particularly the hard-hit Riverside Village mobile home park, which suffered damage in multiple storms this summer.

“It’s just like a magnet,” he said. “It seems like the same places got hit during all three storms.”

Disaster loan applications are due by Nov. 3. Residents who can’t make it to the outreach center can apply online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or call (800) 659-2955 to have an application mailed to them.


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