SBA To Offer Sockeye Wildfire Relief

Those who suffered losses in the Sockeye Fire earlier this summer will be getting some financial help from the (SBA) *Small Business Administration. Wednesday’s announcement covers both residences and businesses.

Governor Walker’s request for a FEMA disaster declaration for the Willow area after the Sockeye fire torched more than 7000 acres has been turned down, but the good news is that the Small Business Administration has automatically offered disaster help to wildfire victims. SBA Administrator Maria Contreras – Sweet made the announcement on Wednesday.  Richard Jenkins, an SBA public information officer, speaking from Sacramento, California,  says the SBA disaster declaration means that anyone who has suffered damage as a result of the Sockeye fire from June 14 – July 22 are (now) eligible to apply for a low interest disaster loan from SBA to help recovery.

“Even though we are the US Small Business Administration, we still help homeowners and renters recover from disasters as well, so we are not just available to businesses impacted by this fire. ”

Anyone who owns a primary residence, or who rents, can borrow up to two hundred thousand dollars for repairs. Those who lost personal property can borrow up to 40 thousand dollars.

[“And for businesses of any size, we can lend up to two million dollars to repair or replace disaster – damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory or any other business asset that they may have lost in the disaster.”]

Jenkins says when SBA declares a disaster, the designation covers areas contiguous to the affected area. Businesses outside Mat Su, that do business within the fire area, and suffered losses as a result, can apply for a loan as well. For example, a Kenai business that sells to Willow can qualify, if it suffers losses directly related to the Sockeye fire.

Home – based businesses can apply as for both residence and business recovery loans, Jenkins says.  99 structures, 55 of them homes, were burned during the fire. 

The deadline for a loan to repair physical damages is October 26. But owners of small businesses can apply for economic impact loans until May 26 of next year .

SBA is setting up a temporary disaster loan outreach center in Willow on Thursday starting at 1 pm. Jenkins invites Willow residents who lost property to come in an talk to a customer service agent.

“And we’ll help them apply for our program right there in the center. We do it electronically, and we’ll sit down and help them go over it line by line.”  

The center is at ambulance station 12 – 3   at 24927 West Willow Creek Parkway and will be open 9 am to 6 pm on weekdays through September 10.