STONE COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Seven months after devastating floods hit the Stone County area, residents and business owners are finally able to get some financial help.
Tuesday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) began processing low-interest disaster loan applications for those impacted, like Robin Phelps, who was a former resident of Perk Beach RV park.
“We come across the bridge there, and it was already up to the rails,” she said. “So, I run home. I grabbed the girls and the baby, and I said, ‘ok, we’ve got to go.’ ”
Phelps lived in a trailer.
“The water went all the way up over the refrigerator inside the house,” she said. “Anything and everything you can imagine we had was gone.”
Stone County Emergency Management Director Raven James said about 130 homes and recreational vehicles were damaged or destroyed by the floods.
But public assistance was not made available.
“I know it’s been frustrating for the residents,” James said.
But low-interest loans by the SBA are at least something, and James gives the state credit.
“Even though we didn’t meet the threshold in the individual assistance, they are public. They did continue to seek some type of assistance with the SBA,” she explained.
The SBA Disaster Assistance center opened on New Hope Road for residents and business owners after Gov. Phil Bryant requested a disaster declaration by the SBA.
“It is a rare opportunity,” said Lovelace Cook, the public affairs specialist with the SBA office of Disaster Assistance. “And I think it’s really important for people to know that there’s help available after disasters. The Small Business Administration is the largest source for federal funding for disaster survivors.”
It’s a gesture that Phelps appreciates.
“I think it’s wonderful that they’re coming in right here and offering a little help especially around the holidays and everything. My heart goes out to anybody who was in that flood.”
The declaration also covers Forrest, George, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River and Perry counties. The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and will be closed on Sundays.
The last day to apply will be December 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To apply for SBA disaster assistance loans online, go to disasterloan.sba.gov; or you can call 1-800-659-2955.