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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Street Department worker Jesse Jackson assists with cleanup on Smith Street in the wake of destructive storms that hit Fort Wayne on June 29.

Daniels seeks SBA loans to aid storms’ uninsured

– Gov. Mitch Daniels on Friday asked for federal assistance with the damage Allen County residents incurred during the heavy storms several weeks ago.

Daniels sent a letter to the U.S. Small Business Administration requesting help from its disaster loan program for businesses and residents in Allen County.

“Serious damage has been sustained to homes and businesses in Allen County, Indiana as a result of severe storms and high winds that occurred from June 29 through July 3, 2012,” he wrote. “The cities of Fort Wayne and New Haven, other smaller communities and rural areas were heavily impacted by the storms.”

Bernie Beier, local Homeland Security director, said the loan program is a way to help people cope with losses that weren’t covered by insurance. He said while there was plenty of damage throughout the county, most of it seemed to be covered.

“The bulk of what we saw damaged was insured,” he said.

Daniels wrote that there were at least 25 homes and/or businesses that sustained at least a 40 percent uninsured loss, making the area eligible for the loan program. The letter stated Daniels will not seek direct individual assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the storm damage.

“I am pleased that Gov. Daniels is pursuing SBA (Small Business Administration) disaster resources for residents hurt by our area’s recent severe storms. Thanks to the enthusiastic response of our community to online damage report filings, with 279 reports recorded so far, we are hopeful that Fort Wayne will soon receive approval for these valuable low-interest loans,” Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said in a written statement.

Beier said the loan program is a kind of intermediate assistance to help for damage that doesn’t meet the level of full FEMA help, but is more than the state’s assistance program can cover. He said it would offer low-interest loans to both homeowners and business owners to help cover storm damage.

The federal agency is scheduled to send a small group to the county next week to verify the storm damage, Beier said. He hopes a decision will be made on whether the county qualifies for the help within a week of their inspections.

According to the state, if Allen County is awarded the assistance, contiguous counties would also qualify.

Niki Kelly of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.