Rhea Mahbubani

Flood-Stricken Bay Area Small Businesses and Residents to Receive Federal Disaster Relief Loans

San Jose businesses and residents affected by the Coyote Creek flood are in line for federal financial help.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Linda McMahon declared an emergency on Tuesday, making low-interest disaster relief loans to those impacted by severe storms between Feb. 1 and 25.

"Getting our businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority," McMahon said in a statement.

A slew of Bay Area counties, including Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Alameda, Napa, Sierra and Sonoma, will also receive the disaster assistance.

“Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to businesses of all sizes, most private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters whose property was damaged or destroyed by this disaster,” SBA’s acting Regional Administrator Robert Blaney said in a statement.

Businesses can borrow up to $2 million to "repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets," the statement said. Funds are also available if home and business owners want to make improvements to their properties to prevent similar damage in the future.

Also, homeowners can apply for disaster loans up to $200,000 to replace damaged or destroyed real estate. They are also eligible for up to $40,0000 to replace personal items that were damaged or destroyed, according to the statement. 

Businesses can look forward to interest rates as low as 3.15 percent, private nonprofits 2.5 percent and homeowners and renters 1.875 percent. The loans can be repaid over 30 years.

San Jose leaders on Tuesday discussed plans to better notify people before the next disaster strikes their hometown. Officials say they will also examine, among other thing, the water height along Coyote Creek and level of the Anderson Reservoir. Scott Budman reports.

Meanwhile, in San Jose, an estimated 1,500 people remain displaced a month after the Coyote Creek flood. City leaders are rolling out a so-called Threat Matrix, a warning system that calls for flyers and messages with color-coded timetables.

A yellow alert will be issued 48 to 72 hours before possible flooding, an orange alert 12 to 24 hours prior, and a red alert 4 to 6 hours ahead of such a disaster.

"That includes electronic communication, but also knocking on doors for those that lack access to the internet," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said, stressing that the warning plan is only an early draft. But residents, who are still cleaning out mud, mold and water from their homes in the Rock Springs neighborhood, say it's not enough.

Starting Wednesday, SBA representatives will be available to answer questions at Disaster Loan Outreach Centers. One in Santa Clara will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in room 1231 of City Hall at 200 E. Santa Clara Street, San Jose. The center in Santa Cruz County will be open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Elections Office at 701 Ocean Street.

Applicants can visit the SBA's website for more information. People can also call (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

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