Assistance available for Sullivan flood victims

Matthew Lane • Aug 26, 2013 at 7:51 PM

KINGSPORT — Additional financial assistance is now available for Sullivan County homeowners who suffered property damage during last month’s flash flooding event, the Sullivan County Emergency Management Agency has announced.

On July 17, a sudden rainstorm dropped nearly four inches of water on downtown Kingsport and some outlying areas. Some of the hardest hit areas of downtown were along Market and Broad streets, with water rising into the first floor and rushing into the basements of many businesses.

More than 240 homes and businesses in Kingsport and Sullivan County suffered damage, with about 70 in the downtown area alone. However, the amount of damage was not enough to meet the criteria for federal grant money.

Gov. Bill Haslam declared the event a disaster, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) earlier this month agreed to allow homeowners and businesses to apply for low-interest, long-term federal loans for losses not fully covered by insurance.

Jim Bean, Sullivan County EMA director, announced this week that the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati has established a Disaster Reconstruction Program (DRP) in which homeowners affected by the July storms and flooding may be eligible for additional financial assistance.

The financial assistance would be in the form of a grant, up to $20,000 per homeowner.

Bean said the DRP is only available to homeowners who have already applied to the SBA for assistance. However, residents can still apply to the SBA (through its website — www.sba.gov) and then seek additional funds through the DRP, Bean noted.

“That’s one primary criteria,” Bean said. “If they were declined (by the SBA) or received assistance is not a determining factor (for the DRP funds).”

The DRP monies are only for construction or repair of the homeowners’ primary residence and will not cover the loss of the contents of the home. Bean said repairs already completed cannot be reimbursed through the program.

If homeowners have flood insurance, they must have filed a claim in order to be eligible for the DRP funds and possibly receive assistance to cover the difference, if any.

Homeowners applying to the DRP will need to provide evidence of a homeowners insurance claim and any insurance payments received, evidence of an application to the SBA along with contact information.

Those wishing to apply may call the Sullivan County EMA office at (423) 323-6912 with their information. Bean said the information would be collected and forwarded to the First Tennessee Development District.

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