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Federal loans available for Southwest Florida residents and businesses impacted by January tornadoes

A home destroyed by Jan. 16 tornado in the Century 21 Mobile Home Community of the Iona region of South Fort Myers one month later
John Davis, WGCU
A home destroyed by Jan. 16 tornado in the Century 21 Mobile Home Community of the Iona region of South Fort Myers one month later

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved Florida’s request for a disaster declaration stemming from tornadoes that touched down in Southwest Florida in January. The declaration opens the door for impacted residents and businesses to apply for SBA disaster loans.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) and Governor Ron DeSantis’ office announced the approval Wednesday.

On Jan. 16, six tornadoes touched down in Southwest Florida including an EF-1 tornado in Charlotte County and an EF-2 tornado in the Iona-McGregor area of South Fort Myers, with winds of up to 118 miles per hour. Storms early that Sunday morning also produced an EF-0 tornado that touched down in Cape Coral between Trafalgar Parkway and Pine Island Road, causing no reported injuries and only minimal damage. In Collier County a tornado caused a semi tractor-trailer to flip on its side temporarily blocking westbound traffic on I-75.

Initial damage assessments by Lee and Charlotte Counties, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), FDEM and the SBA found 158 homes were destroyed or severely damaged and about 300 people were displaced. No deaths were reported. During a February press conferences held in the severely-impacted Century 21 Mobile Home Community in South Fort Myers, Gov. DeSantis noted that the tornadoes disproportionately impacted vulnerable seniors, many living on fixed incomes, as 84% of those impacted are receiving Social Security.

Home disaster loans are available for homeowners and renters to help with the repair or replacement of homes and personal property, which can include vehicles.

Businesses can also apply for economic injury disaster loans to help repair or replace property and equipment. Businesses may also be eligible for economic injury disaster loans meant to help them meet ordinary financial obligations through the disaster recovery period.

The application deadline for business physical disaster loans is July 1, 2022 and the application deadline for economic injury disaster loans is Feb. 2, 2023.

Through the SBA, Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties can also apply for relief in the form of low-interest loans.

FEMA has so far continued to deny individual assistance to victims, claiming the severity and magnitude of the damage was not beyond the capabilities of state and local governments

The Charlotte County Community Foundation and FDEM are still collecting tax-deductible donations to provide relief to victims, and so far have distributed more than $1.09 million dollars.

Impacted residents and business owners can apply online or download an application here. Donations for victims are being accepted through FDEM’s online portal here.

Copyright 2022 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

John Davis has been a full-time Reporter/Producer for WGCU since 2009. He is the local host for NPRââââ