Types of Assistance 

Criteria and Document Requirements

Federal disaster assistance can be provided through the Stafford Act when the President declares a major disaster. In certain cases the United States Small Business Administration (USSBA) can declare a disaster under its own authority. For fishery disasters, assistance is provided through the Magnuson-Stevens Act. However, Fishery Disasters are not addressed in this document. For more information on Fishery Disasters, please contact the Human Services Manager at 253-512-7028.

Presidential Declaration of a Major Disaster

Assistance provided under the Stafford Act includes minimal assistance for housing repairs, housing replacement, and rental assistance. Additionally, help is available for medical, dental, and funeral expenses, vehicle repair/replacement, transportation, and certain other personal property losses. The program addresses basic needs and attempts to ensure a safe, secure, and habitable place to live. The program will not restore victims to a pre-disaster status.

To get federal disaster assistance via the Stafford Act (major disaster declaration) for anything less than 100 uninsured/underinsured homes (primary residences) is difficult, but not impossible. More than the numbers of homes sustaining major damage or destroyed, the supplemental justification will need to paint a picture of a devastating loss for which there are no resources to help with recovery.

The Governor has 30 days from the date of the event to ask for a major disaster declaration. Damage information should be provided to the state EMD as soon as possible. Before the state can request a major disaster, a Preliminary Damage Assessment must be completed. In addition, the state will need time to generate and process the paperwork through the Governor’s office, all of which must be done in 30 days.

Small Business Association Disaster Loans

In lieu of a major disaster declaration by the President the United States Small Business Association has two programs that could help a community: an SBA Physical Loss Disaster Loan or an Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program.

SBA Physical Loss Disaster Loans

This loan program provides low interest loans to eligible individuals and businesses that have incurred disaster damage. Loans are intended to help disaster victims’ repair or replace damaged property to its pre-disaster condition.

Here is the Code of Federal Regulations language on Physical Loss Disaster Loans (emphasis added):

(3) SBA makes a physical disaster declaration, based on the occurrence of at least a minimum amount of physical damage to buildings, machinery, equipment, inventory, homes and other property. Such damage usually must meet the following tests:

(i) In any county or other smaller political subdivision of a State or U.S. possession, at least 25 homes or 25 businesses, or a combination of at least 25 homes, businesses, or other eligible institutions, each sustain uninsured losses of 40 percent or more of the estimated fairreplacement value or pre-disaster fair market value of the damaged property, whichever is lower; or

(ii) In any such political subdivision, at least three businesses each sustain uninsured losses of 40 percent or more of the estimated fair replacement value or pre-disaster fair market value of the damaged property, whichever is lower, and, as a direct result of such physical damage, 25 percent or more of the work force in their community would be unemployed for at least 90 days; and

(iii) The Governor of the State in which the disaster occurred submits a written request to SBA for a physical disaster declaration by SBA (OMB Approval No. 3245-0121). This request should be delivered to the SBA Disaster Area Office serving the region where the disaster occurred within 60 days of the date of the disaster.

Local jurisdictions must submit damage assessment reports on the EMD HS Form 1-PR and 2-BU as applicable to the state within 30 days of the event to allow time for processing.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

EIDL provides low-interest loans to eligible small businesses that have suffered substantial economic injury, regardless of physical damage. It provides operating expenses until a business recovers.

Here is the Code of Federal Regulations rule on Economic Disaster Injury Loans (emphasis added):

(5) SBA makes an economic injury declaration in reliance on a state certification that at least 5 small business concerns in a disaster area have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the disaster and are in need of financial assistance not otherwise available on reasonable terms. The state certification must be signed by the Governor, must specify the county or counties or other political subdivisions in which the disaster occurred, and must be delivered (with supporting documentation) to the servicing SBA Disaster Area Office within 120 days of the disaster occurrence. The Administrator may, in a case of undue hardship, accept such request after 120 days have expired.

To be eligible for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program (Inability of a business to meet its obligations as they mature and to pay its ordinary and necessary expenses) you will need At least 5 small businesses that need financial assistance not otherwise available on reasonable terms because of the disaster to complete the EIDL Form.

Please note: A single business destroyed in a fire or other disaster can affect the ability of many other businesses to pay their bills. For example, a building across the street from a hotel burns down, but the hotel is otherwise undamaged. However, the hotel loses business during the fire, cleanup, and rebuilding process, thus losing its ability to pay its bills – an economic injury. To get an SBA EIDL loan program for the county, you need to get five businesses to record the estimated/real economic injury on the SBA ESTIMATED DISASTER ECONOMIC INJURY WORKSHEET FOR BUSINESS (assuming they meet the criteria of not being able to get financial assistance on reasonable terms elsewhere) and send it to EMD. The people filling out the forms showing the economic injury are not obligated to apply for a loan. Getting the five businesses to show an economic injury simply allows the Governor to make a request for an EIDL program that any business that was affected by this loss can apply for. If you are uncertain what to do, please call for assistance.

Both SBA disaster loan programs are available as part of a Presidential disaster declaration.

Please note: When completing any of the forms it is important that you provide all the information required by the form. Leaving a single item blank can render the information useless. And, please do not modify the forms. Remember that federal disaster assistance addresses uninsured and underinsured losses. Consequently, insurance information is critical in determining if federal disaster assistance is required. Likewise, EMD needs to know an ESTIMATED (best guess) cost to repair, and EMD needs to know the estimated fair replacement value or pre-disaster fair market value of the damaged property, whichever is lower in the event a decision is made to request an SBA physical Disaster Loan Program in lieu of a Major Disaster Declaration.

One-on-one instruction is available by appointment. If you would like Human Services to come to your city or county office and provide instruction, please call 253-512-7028 and make an appointment.


For more information please contact the Human Services Manager, at 253-512-7028.