- Associated Press - Thursday, October 6, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency says federally backed low-interest loans will be available for those affected by Aug. 12 floods in southwest Mississippi, as the area tries to scrape up enough money to recover after failing to qualify for federal grants.

MEMA said Thursday the U.S. Small Business Administration will offer loans to residents, businesses and nonprofit groups in Wilkinson, Adams, Amite and Franklin counties.

The flooding affected at least 84 homes, mostly in the town of Crosby, but Mississippi didn’t meet the dollar-value threshold for federal emergency grants to either individuals or governments. Wilkinson County borders Louisiana, and its floods were caused by the same storm system that deluged areas around Baton Rouge.

Gov. Phil Bryant allotted $250,000 to help pay for materials to rebuild homes with volunteer labor. Some of the money is also supposed to go to rental assistance and helping people buy affordable homes.

But that money didn’t help renters buy new possessions. With SBA loans, homeowners and renters will be able to borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace contents. Homeowners can get up to $200,000 to repair or replace homes. Businesses and nonprofit groups can also get loans to repair or replace buildings, machinery, equipment and inventory.

Without federal disaster grants, Crosby is relying on help from churches and others to recover. Harrison County, Franklin County and Adams County sent dump trucks and workers in September to help remove debris.

The state counted $2 million in damage to public infrastructure, below the $4.2 million threshold needed for federal aid to governments. Wilkinson County Chancery Clerk Thomas Tolliver, also the county’s emergency management director, said the county incurred $1.3 million in damage to roads and bridges and is borrowing money to fix them.

“We are doing the very best we can to get roads passable,” Tolliver said. “Some of the roads are not passable at this point. Some of them are getting there.”

Liz McGraw, who is leading the volunteer community recovery committee, said 106 families so far have applied for assistance. She estimates that the committee will need to raise at least another $150,000 to repair all those homes. Some people were renters in an apartment complex, and other rented or owned homes.

McGraw said all homes had been mucked out and at least three had progressed to the point that wallboard has been hung. She said the committee hopes to finish repairs by Jan. 1.

“It’s just a longer process than anyone would like,” she said.

MEMA and SBA will help people complete loan applications from Oct. 12 through Oct. 18 at Crosby Baptist Church. People can get more information online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela , by calling 1-800-659-2955 or by emailing [email protected]


Follow Jeff Amy at: https://twitter.com/jeffamy. Read his work at https://bigstory.ap.org/author/jeff-amy .

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