HILO — Nearly 3,000 Big Island residents affected by the Kilauea eruption applied for federal disaster assistance before the application deadline passed this week.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday closed applications for Hawaii County residents seeking grants for rental assistance and home repairs or replacements.
FEMA began accepting applications in June, about a month after the beginning of the Kilauea eruption in lower Puna, which destroyed more than 700 homes.
During that time, 2,920 residents registered for assistance, with $8,834,188 in grants and loans approved, said Dana Nelson, FEMA external affairs officer.
Nelson said the amount of approved funding is likely to increase with time as residents file for extensions or make additional claims.
Wednesday also was the final deadline to apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
SBA public information officer Garth MacDonald said the SBA approved 327 loans to Hawaii County residents since June, totaling $33,718,700. Of those loans, 242 of them, equaling $24,270,900, went to homeowners or renters for home and property damage.
The remaining 85 loans were to businesses seeking reimbursement for physical and economic damage.
MacDonald said that, while the deadline for low-interest disaster loans has passed, the deadline for the SBA’s economic injury disaster loans is March 14, 2019. These low-interest loans are available for small businesses and private nonprofits that sustained losses of business in the aftermath of the Kilauea eruption, regardless of whether the business in question suffered any physical damage.
MacDonald said interest rates for the economic injury disaster loans can be as low as 3.61 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for nonprofits, with terms of up to 30 years.
Representatives of SBA will remain at the Disaster Recovery Center in Pahoa through the end of the month. Applications for loans can be made at the center or online at disasterloan.sba.gov.ela.
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