The Main Stream

Jul 12, 2011 9:14 PM

Disaster center opens in Sierra Vista

SIERRA VISTA - Less than a week after federal aid was approved for victims of the Monument Fire the disaster center, in Sierra Vista, opened for business Tuesday.

When you think of federal aid most people think about FEMA and free money, but the Monument Fire wasn't big enough for that so the U.S. Small Business Administration or SBA stepped in.

William Koontz is the public information officer for the SBA. He said, "It's very common for there to be a disaster in the U.S. but it's too small to be declared by FEMA but large enough for the SBA to declare it."

The SBA specializes in disaster loans. It's not free money but Koontz said it can still be a big help. He said, "Taking on a debt in these economic times is nothing to do lightly but for some people it's the only way they can get the cash they need to rebuild. There's no other avenue or opportunity available."

He said it's likely the only option because banks work on collateral and when a home is destroyed, so is the collateral. On top of that the SBA said the interest rate isn't too bad either.

Koontz said, "A lot of people here me say 2.688% and they say I'd like more than I can get. It's a very very attractive rate."

Sheri Rice is the owner of the Lone Star Café. She went to the disaster center Tuesday morning to see what it's all about this morning because she said even though her place was spared she still lost a lot.

Rice said, "I had lost income for about 15 days when I was closed. Then my people's wages, clean up, and spoilage with the food I threw out."

She said she doesn't know what she'll get out of it yet, she's just happy they're here. Rice said, "I think it's a good thing. A lot of people lost a lot...mostly income. I think it's a good thing that someone is helping out."

Rice said after her meeting she will definitely be telling people about the assistance because she said it's not a matter of if they need the assistance, it's if they actually know about it.

The disaster center will be open at the Cochise County Service Center until July 28th, but you can apply for a loan, over the phone or online, until September 9th.

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