Oct. 30--Residents whose home and property were damaged by flooding caused by heavy rains in June can now apply for low interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration, officials said.
Cook County investigators identified about 200 properties in Steger, Park Forest and South Chicago Heights that had sustained some kind of flood damage from rains between June 26 and 28, according to William Barnes, executive director of Cook County's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
He said flooding instances ranged from ponding in yards and nearby streets to basements and first floors being submerged.
Although investigators only visited certain areas, Barnes said anyone affected by the rains in June may apply for the loan.
"Just because we didn't knock on a door doesn't exclude a homeowner affected by the flooding," he said.
The SBA disaster loan is available to residents in the county of Cook, Will, Kankakee, Kendall, Grundy, DuPage, Lake, Kane and McHenry in Illinois and Lake County in Indiana.
Barnes said the loan can be used to pay for lost property, but also can be used to help prevent future damage from flooding.
"Mitigation is something really important in the emergency management world," he said. "It's something we in Cook County are really focused on."
Barnes said the loan can be used to repair a crack in a basement or for the purchase of a sump pump.
A homeowner may qualify for a SBA disaster loan of up to $200,000 for their primary residence and both renters and homeowners can receive up to $40,000 for personal property, such as vehicles.
The interest rate on the loans may be as low as 1.938 percent with a 30-year repayment time.
Business owners can receive up to a $2 million loan with a 4 percent interest rate.
Nonprofits also can receive up to $2 million with a 2.75 interest rate.
Tamim Choudhury, public affairs specialist for the SBA, said a business or nonprofit may still receive a working capital loan up to $2 million even if they had no physical damages from the flooding.
There is no loan forgiveness for homeowners, businesses or nonprofits.
"Repayment is required as these are taxpayers' dollars that are utilized for disaster survivors to recover and rebuild their homes and businesses," Choudhury said.
Barnes said a disaster affected area must meet a threshold in the number of affected properties to be eligible for the SBA loans.
He said flooding from the late September rains are being looked at by investigators as to whether the area meets that threshold.
"We haven't made a determination, yet," Barnes said.
He said flood events might become a regular occurrence in the region due to climate change.
"I fear this is going to become to the new norm," Barnes said.
He said the county's newly updated Hazard Mitigation Plan should help address future flooding issues in a regional effort.
For example, Barnes said a village like Steger, which is in a low-lying area, might not have the resources available to address all its flooding concerns, so it might take a regional effort of affected communities to develop the infrastructure needed to handle major floods.
"We're working with communities to band together to create projects on a regional basis," he said.
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