Local businesses continue to struggle despite flood relief

GIBBON, Neb. (KSNB) - Many small businesses hit by the flood are finding their options for federal aid are limited.

That's because FEMA doesn't offer assistance for small businesses impacted by a presidentially-declared disaster, like we have in Nebraska.

So they partner with the Small Business Administration, which offers low-interest loans, but no grants.

"If there were grants it would be a lot more helpful," said Yesenia Arias, who's parents own Mary Chuy in Gibbon. "It'll just be another payment that we have to do over time. We're not like a franchise. Walmart has the funding to get back up right away. When you're a small business it's harder."

Mary Chuy got almost 2 feet of water after the flood. They lost many of their appliances, including their fridge, stove and fryer. Their flour tortilla maker is saved, but they're not sure about their corn tortilla machine.

Arias bought a new fridge for the restaurant, but they're still missing a stove and fryer.

They have about $30,000 worth of damage. Even so, Arias said she doesn't think a loan is a great option for them in the long-run.

"You know a loan doesn't really help when you need the money right away, and grants would be great so you don't have to repay, but when you have a small business like ours, it's kind of hard just to get another loan," Arias said.

The community's been hard at work to get the restaurant back on its feet. They had a fundraiser Sunday, and raised over $7,000. Gibbon Public Schools also helped raise money for the restaurant, and gave them a $3,000 check.

Arias said they've applied for grants from the Gibbon flood relief fund, and a small business loan. She said they also applied for FEMA individual assistance, but haven't heard back from them yet.

Right now, the SBA is the only federal agency that provides federal assistance to small businesses.

So far, they've approved close to $1,000,000 worth of low-interest loans. They can provide these for businesses, non-profits, homeowners and renters.

There's two types of loans for small businesses: Ones that cover physical damages, and ones that cover economic injury.

Like FEMA, you need to report your damages to insurance before applying for federal aid.

"A lot of times people will wait until their insurance settles or they think they know how much money they're getting," said Burl Kelton, public information officer for the Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance. "You don't need to do that, because it may be that SBA can disperse money to you from your loan before your insurance settles."

Kelton said the loans are given at 30 years maximum, and are typically at a 4 percent interest rate.

If you'd like to have more information on either FEMA or SBA federal disaster assistance, you can call FEMA at 800-621-3362 and SBA at 800-659-2955.

There's also a temporary disaster recovery center set up in Gibbon, where you can get in-person help from FEMA and SBA representatives in applying for federal assistance.

They'll be at the Gibbon Baptist Church from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until April 19.