Small Business Administration Offers Disaster Funding to Storm-Affected Long Islanders

Photo by Shoshanna McCollum
Flash flooding in Ocean Beach, Fire Island on January 10, 2024.

Fire Island rounded a corner in the quest for beach replenishment as the release of “extreme storm” funding for coastal repairs by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was announced in late March. However, relief is now also available for Fire Island businesses and residents directly impacted by the January 9 and10, 2024 flooding events via low-interest loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA) as well as other affected Long Island areas in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.


SBA made the federal loans available in response to a letter from New York Governor Kathy Hochul in early March. Eligible applicants include businesses, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners as well as renters to support the economic recovery of the impacted community.


“SBA is here to help homeowners, renters, nonprofits and businesses too. Our mission is to help them prepare for, respond to, recover from and mitigate against disasters of all types, manmade or natural.” said Sharon Gadbois, SBA Public Affairs Specialist as she made a virtual presentation at the most recent Ocean Beach Board of Trustees meeting on Saturday, March 23. “Everything stops when a catastrophic event happens, including our spending. We have to reevaluate and reassess before we can figure out where we will circulate our money next.”


Gadbois proceeded to outline scenarios of the cascade effect when homeowners confronted with damage may rack up credit card debt on emergency repair expenses and have less discretionary spending that would normally generate into neighborhood businesses that could result in economic downturn for months or even years later as a result of a storm event, thus the necessity of the SBA Disaster Loan Program.


“You could actually take out a low-interest disaster loan with the SBA and pay yourself back for all the supplies you purchased on your credit card.” she added, emphasizing the power the SBA program has to break the economic downturn cycle.


Loans of up to $500,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $100,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Interest rates are as low as 4% for businesses, 3.25% for nonprofit organizations, and 2.688% for homeowners and renters, with terms up to 30 years. Gadbois also mentioned that the first year has a 12-month deferment with an availability rate of zero percent.


“Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets,” said SBA’s New York District Director John Mallano in a statement

Flash flooding in Ocean Beach, Fire Island on January 10, 2024.

released prior to the public meeting.


Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. Uninsured and otherwise uncompensated disaster losses are eligible, including insurance deductibles.


Like all loan programs there are restrictions. SBA guidelines state that secondary homes, personal pleasure boats, airplanes, recreational vehicles and similar property are not eligible, unless used for business purposes – and Fire Island is a place where secondary vacation homes are quite common. However, a question from the floor made by Ocean Beach Association President Maria Silsdorf offered some clarification on this point:


“So, let’s say I stay in the house 10 weeks, but I rent it out for four weeks?” asked Silsdorf.

“I would encourage you to apply,” answered Gadbois.


Debt ratio and credit rating are a factor in the application process and if these things are not in good order, SBA may decline their loan application. Gadbois did mention in an email to this publication after the meeting that an appeal process is available should the loan application be declined.


Applicants may apply online and receive additional disaster assistance information at Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email for more information on SBA disaster assistance. For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability, please dial 7-1-1 to access telecommunications relay services.


The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is May 10, 2024. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Dec. 11, 2024.