Flood Aid on the Way

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

The long wait may finally be over for victims of the Labor Day flood. Federal loans will soon be available, but some say a loan won't help them.
"This door didn't open for weeks," says Tonya Knight as she steps into her flood-ravaged home.
She moved back in just before Christmas, but it wasn't a very merry one with $45,000 in repairs hanging over her head.
Now there's a new door opening for flood victims but she worries that one may slam shut too.
"It might help some residents, it might help a lot of people, but then again it depends on what the qualifications are to get that help," says Knight.
Today the U.S. Small Business Administration declared Winnebago County a disaster area.
Starting Wednesday, homeowners can apply for loans up to $200,000, over as long as 30 years, at about three percent interest.
Businesses in Winnebago, Boone, DeKalb, Ogle and Stephenson counties in Illinois and Green and Rock Counties in Wisconsin can also apply to cover losses up to $1.5 million.
Credit requirements to qualify won't be as tough as they would be for a bank loan.
"You look at the length of the loan and the monthly payments, sure it's gonna be a burden on some people, but to a lot of people it's gonna be a lot less than a conventional mortgage," says U.S. Representative Don Manzullo (R-Egan).
Knight was hoping for a FEMA grant, she says a loan isn't enough for many of her neighbors.
"They're retired, they can't hardly live off the money they're getting, how are they supposed to pay a loan back, no matter how long you stretch it out," says Knight.
Despite her reservations, she says she'll apply.
Says Knight, "It's worth a try, all they can do is say no, it's not like everybody else hasn't been saying no to us already."
Mayor Morrissey said tonight the city will develop a financial assistance program for those who don't qualify for the S.B.A. loan. He also wants to secure a 200,000 dollar State of Illinois grant.
Wednesday the S.B.A. will open an outreach office at the Rockford Human Service's Department on North Church St. You can head there to apply, or call 1-800-659-2955 for more information. March 6, 2007 is the last day for applications.


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