WASHINGTON – The SBA's ramped-up processing of its disaster loans is paying off for hurricane victims. As of Dec. 2, the agency said it has approved a record $1 billion for those impacted by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. More than 14,200 residents and business owners in the Gulf Coast region have received disaster assistance loans and they are now being approved at an average rate of $32.5 million a day, according to the SBA. "SBA's disaster office is approving disaster loans as quickly as possible, while maintaining our responsibility to the taxpayer," said SBA Administrator Hector Barreto. "We have delivered an unprecedented response to an unprecedented disaster, and despite the substantial hurdles facing both the SBA and the residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Florida, we are matching the loan efforts made in response to previous disasters." Barreto said in the 94 days since the Gulf Coast hurricanes, the SBA had received more loan applications this time than for any other disaster in the history of the agency. Only three previous disasters in history led to more than $1 billion in SBA loans: the Northridge earthquake in 1994, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the multiple hurricanes that struck Florida last year.

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