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Tornado victims clean up, apply for loans

One week after tornadoes ravaged Johnston and Wilson counties, Kenly resident Alan Hooks tried to clear the clutter surrounding his now unlivable mobile home.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — One week after tornadoes ravaged Johnston and Wilson counties, Kenly resident Alan Hooks tried to clear the clutter surrounding his now unlivable mobile home.

Hooks said the storm’s winds blew through the plywood that covered the window of the children’s room.

“It just charred walls and ripped mattresses and everything up,” Hooks said.

Volunteers from local churches helped Hooks clean up his yard on Saturday. "They come from Garner, Fayetteville, Clayton, everywhere. Just coming out volunteering," Hooks said.

Hooks, his wife, Christina, and their three girls have been staying at a local hotel. They are uninsured and plan to apply for a federal disaster loan.

“Anything can be of help,” Hooks said.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans to the tornado victims. Gov. Mike Easley had requested the loans after a tour of the storm zone on Monday.

“Most people don’t have the cash lying around to replace their home if it’s been destroyed,” SBA spokesman Jack Camp said.

Homeowners and renters in Johnston, Franklin, Harnett, Nash, Sampson, Wake, Wayne and Wilson counties can apply for up to $200,000 to fund repairs to storm-damaged properties. The SBA also offers loans to replace items inside the home.

Businesses and non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to replace or repair property or equipment.

Homeowners who apply should get an answer on the loan within 21 days, officials said.

The SBA will staff two Disaster Loan Outreach Centers to help people apply for the loans.

In Johnston County, loan applicants can go to the Kenly Fire Department at 101 W. First St. In Wilson County, applicants can go to Wilson County Rescue at 1902 S. Tarboro St. Both centers opened Friday at 3 p.m. and will be open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., each week until further notice.

Loan rates are based on an each applicant's financial situation, with interest beginning at from 2.67 percent and terms of up to 30 years.

Loan information and applications are also available:

  • By phone: Call 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the hearing impaired), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • E-mail: disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.
  • Web: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
Completed loan applications should be mailed to:
U.S. Small Business Administration
Processing and Disbursement Center
14925 Kingsport Road

Fort Worth, TX. 76155.

Since Friday, SBA officials said 14 people have visited the two centers. About eight applications have already been submitted.

The filing deadline for physical property damage is Jan. 21. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Aug. 21.

Those applying must meet certain credit requirements for the loan. If they are found not to meet the credit requirements for the SBA loan, homeowners can apply for the State’s Individual Assistance Program, which provides grants to help cover losses.

Hooks said his family plans to move into a home he had started building for his father, who passed away nine years ago. The Hooks never had enough money to finish it. Now volunteers with the North Carolina Baptist Men plan to fix it up for them for free.

“It just makes me feel so good,” Christina Hooks said.



Renee Chou, Reporter
Anthony Shepherd, Photographer
Kathy Hanrahan, Web Editor

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