Moore Tornado Victims Still Dealing With SBA Loan Problems
Wednesday, September 10th 2014, 6:28 pm
By: Dana Hertneky
In the days following the Moore tornado, the federal government offered help in the form of low interest, long-term Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Nearly a year and a half later, less than half of those who applied for SBA loans have received them.
Aaron Strouhal decided to rebuild after the tornado destroyed his house. The 1.8 percent interest loan the SBA offered seemed like a godsend, but he soon found he had dug out from the debris of the tornado just to be buried under paperwork and government bureaucracy.
“For the most part, everyone I've dealt with has been very friendly and helpful,” said Strouhal. “They're not really proactive; they're reactive. It's like you hit a point, and they're like now you need to do this, and I'm like great but if you would have told me before I would have already had that done.”
Lewis Jewelers lost a warehouse and all its contents in the tornado. The SBA offered them a loan too.
“We spent weeks filling out all the paperwork, walked us through it, got through it and they offered me a loan of 6 percent interest, which is about 2 percent more than what the market is asking right now,” Tim Lewis said. They declined the loan.
Of the $51.2 million in SBA loans that Oklahomans were approved for following the tornado, only about $22.4 million has been dispensed.
Strouhal says most of his neighbors didn't take the loan and, instead, used their insurance money and moved. He now understands why.
“I would say a 75 percent chance I would just take the money and go buy another house, avoid the frustration we went through,” Strouhal said.
A spokesperson for the Small Business Administration says the paperwork to apply for one of their loans is really no different than any other loan, and because they are dealing with taxpayer money, and they have to be sure of the recipients ability to repay.
The SBA says they encourage everyone who thinks they may need a loan to apply for it, just in case you need it. They say many people then decide they don't need it.