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Federal disaster aid available for residents impacted by Polk County EF-2 tornado

Recovery slow following Polk EF-2 tornado
Posted at 11:28 PM, Nov 15, 2019

POLK COUNTY, Fla. -- Last month, a rare EF-2 tornado carved a 9-mile path through Polk County going right through the heart of Kathleen.

On Friday, residents were able to apply for federal disaster aid through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Like most people, they are thinking that they don’t want a loan,” Ray Harbour, the Public Affairs Specialist in the Office of Disaster Assistance at SBA, said. “I would encourage anyone to go and apply. There’s no fee to apply. If you choose not to accept the loan, there is no fee. Also, if your insurance comes through, you can pay it down or pay it off early, there’s no fee.”

Homeowners hit hard on Publix Road near Mt Tabor Baptist Church said it will take several more months before they recover.

“A lot of electrical damage, the addition back room of the house, that got knocked in,” Brian Monroe said. “I still don’t have power back onto the house yet. I’ve had electricians out here working on it, carpenters, they’ve done replacement trusses in the house the roof has been started. The house had to be completely gutted.”

Monroe said he feels fortunate the damage to his home wasn’t worse. Just across the street where his neighbors home once stood is just a slab of concrete.

“It got pretty tore up, but at the same time, in time, we are going to be able to put it back. We still got our health everybody came out of it, OK, and that’s the only way to really look at it,” Monroe said.

Even if you have insurance, Harbor urges all residents who qualify to apply for the loan.

“If you are approved, you can put the loan on hold for up to six months, and you could spend that time seeing if you might can find a better deal, if you have other options, or maybe you can get by without it,” Harbour said. “But, go ahead and apply, so you have that as a tool and are able to consider that as one of your options for recovering.”

Representatives with SBA will be at the Disaster Loan Outreach Center at the Salvation Army at 2620 Kathleen Road next Monday- Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesday, November 26 until 4 p.m.

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