The U.S. Small Business Administration has issued a disaster declaration in Tuscaloosa County for victims affected by the flooding brought on by Tropical Storm Claudette last month.

The move will make low-interest federal loans available to anyone whose home or business was damaged by the tropical storm and the flash flooding it caused across the area.

The disaster declaration includes Escambia and Tuscaloosa Counties but will also apply to their adjacent counties -- Baldwin, Bibb, Conecuh, Covington, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Monroe, Pickens, and Walker Counties.

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Businesses and nonprofit organizations that suffered damage will be allowed to borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace property damaged in the storm.

Individual property owners can also qualify for these low-interest, 30-year loans.

“Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property,” said Kem Fleming, director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.

Loans are also available for flood mitigation improvements like storm shelters, sump pumps and French drains.

Representatives of the SBA will be on-site at the Northport Civic Center to assist flood victims every day until Thursday, August 5th, except this Sunday. The Disaster Loan Outreach Center opened Tuesday at noon and will be staff every weekday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. this Saturday.

Flood victims can also receive virtual customer support by emailing FOCE-Help@sba.gov or calling 800-659-2955.

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said the declaration was made in response to a letter from Kay Ivey's authorized representative Brian E. Hastings, who asked for assistance on July 21st.

“The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of Alabama with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters with federal disaster loans,” said Guzman. “Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA.”

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Sept. 20, 2021. The deadline to return economic injury applications is April 22, 2022.

Although the damage here merited a disaster declaration from the SBA, Tuscaloosa County EMA Director Nick Lolley said there was not enough property damage for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to do the same.

Lolley said for FEMA to declare a disaster, the state must demonstrate that an event caused more than $7.5 million in property damages. Claudette did not meet that threshold, he said.

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