the US Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved Florida’s request for a disaster declaration stemming from the tornadoes that tore through southwest Florida in January. The statement opens the door for affected residents and businesses to apply for SBA disaster loans.

the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) and Governor Ron DeSantis’ office announced the approval on Wednesday.

On January 16, six tornadoes touched down in southwest Florida, including an EF-1 tornado in Charlotte County and an EF-2 tornado in the Iona-McGregor area of ​​South Fort Myers, with winds of up to 118 miles per hour. Storms early this Sunday morning also produced an EF-0 tornado which touched down in Cape Coral between Trafalgar Parkway and Pine Island Road, causing no reported injuries and only minimal damage. In Collier County, a tornado flipped a tractor-trailer on its side, temporarily blocking westbound traffic on I-75.

Initial damage assessments by Lee and Charlotte counties, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), FDEM and SBA found that 158 ​​homes were destroyed or severely damaged and approximately 300 people were injured. displaced. No deaths have been reported. At a February press conference in the severely affected Century 21 mobile home community in South Fort Myers, Governor DeSantis noted that the tornadoes had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable seniors, many of whom live on fixed incomes. , because 84% of those affected receive social security.

Home disaster loans are available to homeowners and renters to help repair or replace homes and personal property, which may include vehicles.

Businesses can also apply for economic disaster loans to help repair or replace goods and equipment. Businesses may also be eligible for economic injury disaster loans to help them meet their ordinary financial obligations during the disaster recovery period.

The application deadline for business physical disaster loans is July 1, 2022 and the application deadline for economic disaster loans is February 2, 2023.

Through the SBA, Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties can also apply for relief in the form of low-interest loans.

FEMA has so far continued to refuse individual help to the victims, saying the severity and scale of the damage was not beyond the capabilities of state and local governments

the Charlotte County Community Foundation and FDEM are still collecting tax-deductible donations to help victims and have so far distributed more than $1.09 million.

Concerned residents and business owners can apply online or download an application here. Donations for victims are accepted via the FDEM online portal here.

Copyright 2022 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

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