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WASHINGTON – With literally no time to catch its breath from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the SBA said it is ready to assist small business owners that were impacted by Hurricane Wilma. “On the heels of the Hurricane Katrina and Rita disasters we have more than doubled our work force in order to more quickly process loan requests resulting from this unprecedented series of storms,” said SBA Administrator Hector Barreto. Barreto said the agency will have loan officers in every federal/state disaster recovery center that is opened. So far, President Bush has declared Collier, Lee and Monroe counties as disaster areas although damage in several other counties is currently being evaluated. SBA offers loans up to $200,000 to repair disaster damaged primary residences. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to replace personal property such as furniture and clothing. Loans to businesses of all sizes and non-profit organizations are available up to $1.5 million to repair damage to real estate, machinery, equipment and inventory. Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) are also available to small businesses unable to pay bills or meet operating expenses. After four hurricanes struck Florida and 13 other states last summer, the SBA said it approved more than $2.1 billion in disaster loans to about 64,500 residents and business owners in the disaster areas.

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