SBA office relocates to Veterans Memorial Center in Tafuna
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The US Small Business Administration (SBA), which has now approved more than $8 million in low interest loans to those impacted by Tropical Storm Gita in America Samoa, has relocated its Disaster Loan Outreach Center (DLOC) to the Veterans Memorial Center building at the Tafuna industrial park.
The relocation is effective today, June 4. For the past several weeks it has been at the DYWA Pago Pago Youth Center, after it transitioned from the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) operated jointly by ASG and the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The new DLOC will open from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, said SBA Director Tanya N. Garfield of the Disaster Field Operations Center-West, in a statement, which also says that businesses and residents can meet with SBA representatives in the Tafuna location and no appointment is necessary.
Garfield also emphasized that even though the deadline to apply for a loan for property damage has passed, small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size still have until Dec. 3, 2018, to apply for an economic injury disaster loan to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.
Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage. Business owners may apply online using SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Interest rates can be as low as 3.58 percent for businesses and 2.5 percent for private-nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.
And as of late last week, the total amount of loans approved by SBA for those impacted by the storm has increased.
SBA public information officer, Yolanda Stoke said via email from Sacramento last Thursday that the federal agency has approved 543 disaster loans for a total of $8.1 million to businesses and residents impacted by Gita.
Samoa News has learned from some residents that they are so pleased to have been able to get a very low interest rate for repairs to their homes, after they were initially rejected by FEMA.
One family said the loan payments are “very, very low for over a long period of time and that the first five months is waived before having to make a payment. This is great for us as a family.”
Another family said the their loan payments annually are affordable and they are grateful that the feds are able to offer options for impacted residents to “rebuild our homes and lives after the storm.”
Meanwhile, FEMA reminds local residents that the ASG Department of Human Resources continues to accept applications for Disaster Unemployment Assistance for those who lost their jobs and self-employed individuals who have been unable to work due to damage sustained from Gita.
DUA benefits in American Samoa are up to $180 a week and are available from weeks of unemployment beginning Feb. 11, 2018 until the week ending Sept. 1, 2018 provided that the individual’s unemployment continues to be a direct result of the disaster. See Samoa News edition May 24 for details.