Niagara Gazette

Opinion

October 31, 2012

GLYNN: Calls flooding local SBA office

Niagara Gazette — If you have a relative or friend in the Hurricane Sandy-stricken area of New York City or New Jersey, it would only be natural to expect a phone call for one reason or another.

But imagine, if you were suddenly swamped with 2,200 phone calls per day from people trying to deal with their damaged businesses, demolished homes, flooded streets and extensive property losses.

William E. Leggiero Jr., director of the U.S. Small Business Disaster Assistance-Customer Service Office in downtown Buffalo, and his staff are braced for such an earful from distressed business people and home owners after Sandy slammed into the Jersey Shore, south of Atlantic City, N.J. 

"We're preparing for a vast amount of calls from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut," Leggiero said, alluding to the three states that already have been declared disaster areas. Several other states including Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvaia, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Virginia are expected to be added to the list, he said. 

The initial three states were automatically declared as disaster assistance-eligible based on the evidence at hand, the photos and other documentation quickly available by the conditions. The process for other states calls for each governor to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency that will then make specific recommendations for the presidential declaration.

"We're geared up for those estimated 2,200 calls that could last for nearly 45 days," Leggiero added. He noted that, based on past performances, 80 percent of the anticipated calls come from homeowners and 20 percent from businesses.

People needing to start all over again — that total could be staggering — might be able to secure loans at 1.688 percent for up to 30 years. Eligible business owners might secure loans at 4 percent for the same timeframe. That could cover up to $2 million for the under-insured portion of the loss.

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