Long Island homeowners and businesses have received $566 million in disaster loans from the Small Business Administration following superstorm Sandy -- more than half of the roughly $1 billion the federal agency has loaned to New York State residents.
A majority of the Long Island loans went to 7,269 homeowners, who were approved for $542.5 million, while 287 local businesses received $23.4 million in loans, according to SBA figures from Tuesday afternoon, the latest available.
Low-interest SBA disaster loans are offered to businesses and homeowners in declared disaster areas. Businesses may apply for up to $2 million in loans with interest rates as low as 3 percent per year. Homeowners can apply for up to $200,000 in loans starting at 1.688 percent interest.
Melissa Laroque, the owner of Babylon Fish & Clam restaurant and fish market, received an approval for her SBA loan Tuesday -- a day after her birthday, and almost three months after she first submitted her application for a loan. Laroque declined to specify the loan amount she was approved for, but said she thought it was "fair."
Babylon Fish & Clam sustained up to $180,000 in damages after Sandy's floodwaters came through, leaving broken kitchen equipment, rotten food and moldy walls, she said. Although the restaurant was back in business after Thanksgiving, Laroque said the loan would help her with unpaid bills for the construction work because her insurance didn't give her a dime.
Before she actually receives the loan money, there's still a legal process to go through and papers to sign, Laroque said. "I'm still holding my breath a little."
The deadline to apply for a disaster loan for physical damage from the storm is next Wednesday. The deadline has been pushed back twice. An SBA spokesman said the agency does not want Sandy victims to assume the deadline will be extended again.
Businesses applying for SBA loans to make up for economic loss due to the storm have until July 31.