Deadline for federal loans and grants from September storm damage quickly approaching

NORTH PROVIDENCE − The deadline for federal loan and grant applications for damage incurred by the September 2023 storms is March 7.

Small Business Administration spokesperson Julie Garrett said the deadline is for physical damage caused by the storm, which spawned four tornadoes and catastrophically flooded a Cranston apartment building.

The deadline for grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency is the same date, March 7. SBA loans to businesses for the economic impact of the storms have a later deadline of Oct. 7.

The loan applications for businesses that have felt an economic impact from the bridge shutdown have until Sept. 16.

President Joe Biden declared the damage from the Sept. 10-13, 2023, storm a federal disaster in January. That disaster declaration made anyone who was harmed by the storm eligible for grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and loans through the SBA.

Small Business Administration agent Mike Swartz with Anita Steenson.
Small Business Administration agent Mike Swartz with Anita Steenson.

While FEMA offers grants, capped at $42,500, sometimes the better option is an extremely low-interest loan through the SBA.

Garrett said the recommendation is for anyone impacted to register with FEMA first, online, at, although they can also go directly to an SBA or FEMA center for help with the application.

Help centers are open: FEMA, SBA open disaster centers to field claims

What kind of help is available?

Both FEMA grants and SBA and loans can help homeowners, renters, small business owners and nonprofits that experienced damage from the September storms.

FEMA grants typically top out at $42,500 for home repairs.

SBA disaster loans are available to renters, homeowners, small businesses and nonprofits.

Those loans cover up to $500,000 for homeowners and $100,000 for renters, with interest rates as low as 2.5% for homeowners needing to repair damage, or renters trying to replace property.

People who have already incurred the expenses and put them on a credit card, pulled an auto loan to replace a destroyed car or used a line of credit to pay a contractor can still get an SBA loan, probably at a lower interest rate, and use it pay off their private damage-related loan, Garrett said.

"I've had people over time say, they wish they had applied for the disaster loan because they thought they were going to get the insurance money or they should have pulled a loan because they had foundation damage they didn't realize or a contractor found other problems," Garrett said.

Once someone applies for the disaster loan, they have 60 days to accept or decline any loan offered. Even if an applicant initially declines the loan, they have six months from the date of the determination letter to "reactivate" it, Garrett said.

"It's all about getting your foot in the door while the door is still open," Garrett said.

Where you can get help

The SBA and FEMA have set up centers with representatives who can guide people through applications, troubleshoot issues and check on claims.

The SBA representatives are doing double duty on the September 2023 storms and disaster loans for the Washington Bridge disaster.

"We want to encourage people to get one-on-one help while we're still here," Garrett said.

The SBA and FEMA have joint centers set up at:

  • North Providence Public Safety Complex, 1835 Mineral Spring Ave., Business Recovery Center, Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

  • Johnston Senior Center, 1291 Hartford Ave., Disaster Recovery Center, Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

  • East Providence City Hall, 145 Taunton Ave., Monday through Thursday 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Closed on weekends.

Check the portal if you have an application

For those who have filed a loan, the biggest piece of advice Garrett has is to check the federal portal for the claim. Often, more documents are required from applicants, but emails go unread or calls go unanswered, and the portal is the easiest way to see if something else is required.

What are the SBA loan terms?

There is no interest accrued and no payments for the first 12 months, and no prepayment penalty.

The loans are offered through the federal government, not private banks. The loans have a maximum term of 30 years. Borrowers must be able to show that they can repay their loan.

The interest rates for loans range from:

  • 4% to 8% for businesses

  • 2.5% to 5% for homeowners and renters

  • 2.375% for nonprofits

Loans go up to $2 million, but businesses that are a "major source of employment" can apply for a higher amount.

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Reach reporter Wheeler Cowperthwaite at or follow him on Twitter @WheelerReporter.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Federal disaster loan/grant deadline is March 7 for September flooding