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Small Business Administration loans are available for Edgewater, Annapolis residents and businesses to rebuild after tornado

After Chris’s Charcoal Pit owner Stavroulla Herodotou heard about low-interest Small Business Administration loans announced Thursday, she applied with hopes of salvaging the Annapolis Greek restaurant that was damaged in the tornado that tore through the city and Edgewater Sept. 1.

The SBA loans are open to all residents and business owners who experienced property damage during the tornado in the wake of Tropical Depression Ida, County Executive Steuart Pittman announced in a tweet.

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Herodotou’s business and all the equipment inside were completely destroyed, as was her car, she said.

A friend of Herodotou’s, Jeanne Poole, set up a GoFundMe fundraiser online for the restaurant that has now collected almost $32,000, but Chris’s is going to need a lot more help to reopen. Herodotou said the online fundraiser is the only place she’s gotten money to help so far.

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“If we don’t get any help from anybody, it’s going to be really hard for us to reopen, I’m going to be honest,” she said. “It’s hard to find $2 million and start from the beginning. But we want to reopen. We have to work; we have two little kids.”

This is the most recent aid that’s been made available for those affected by the tornado. The Department of Housing and Community Development is currently operating the Maryland Disaster Housing Assistance Program, the Maryland Disaster Relief Housing Program, and the Maryland Business Recovery Loan program.

This comes after Pittman and Gov. Larry Hogan were denied their request for funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Hogan then requested and was granted a disaster declaration from the SBA, allowing them to dole out loans in the area.

Disaster Loan Outreach Centers were set up yesterday in Anne Arundel and Cecil County to help residents and business owners apply for the loans. The application is also available online, said Tracy Harbour, a regional representative from the SBA.

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“Anyone who had damage — homeowners, renters, nonprofits, businesses of all sizes — can apply,” Harbour said.

Homeowners and residents can apply for up to $200,000 for damage to a building. If personal property such as cars, furniture or computer equipment were damaged, they can apply for up to $40,000.

Business owners can apply for up to $2 million as they rebuild their storefronts and can apply for more in order to prevent against future damage from other disasters.

Even business owners who didn’t encounter physical damage to their property but feel the tornado hurt their business financially are eligible for SBA loans. These Economic Injury Disaster Loans are aimed at providing working capital for businesses while the community recovers from the disaster.

“When it comes to disaster, we’re not just for small businesses, we’re here to get everyone in the community back up and running,” Harbour said.

She says these loans can work in tandem with insurance and encourages all affected residents to apply.

“A lot of people think they don’t want to apply for a loan because they want to focus on insurance,” she said. “There’s no fee to apply, no fee to cancel, no fee to pay down with insurance. They can put it on hold for six months to put together the best strategy for recovering.”

Debbie Angevine stands outside of her home on Red Admiral Court in the Edgewater area that was damaged by the remnants of Tropical Depression Ida. September 1, 2021
Debbie Angevine stands outside of her home on Red Admiral Court in the Edgewater area that was damaged by the remnants of Tropical Depression Ida. September 1, 2021 (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun)

Yet, some are more concerned with other parts of the rebuilding process like Debbie Angevine, whose home lost part of its roof and walls were displaced.

“Our insurance is doing very well for us and I don’t think we’re going to have to take out any loans,” said Angevine. “If we can just get a building permit and get the process started that would be really good.”

She hopes her home may be habitable again in a year or so.

Annapolis staple Chris's Charcoal Pit owner fights an uphill battle to reopen the restaurant after a tornado on Sept. 1 in the aftermath of Tropical Depression Ida
Annapolis staple Chris's Charcoal Pit owner fights an uphill battle to reopen the restaurant after a tornado on Sept. 1 in the aftermath of Tropical Depression Ida (Stavroulla Herodotou)

For Herodotou, reopening also depends on her landlord, who is also waiting to hear back from the insurance company about his next steps. He anticipates having an answer for Herodotou by the end of October.

“If not there, if I have to go somewhere else, I’m definitely going to need a lot of money to build from the beginning,” she said.

She said the insurance company didn’t visit the building until a few weeks after the tornado.

“Everything is destroyed, everything,” she said. “The roof is totally gone. The equipment was damaged, too. It’s a miracle we’re all alive.”

She is hoping to reopen in the easiest way possible, if not at the 1946 West Street location, then elsewhere.

Those interested in applying for loans can visit the Anne Arundel Outreach Center at 2660 Riva Road Unit 200 in Annapolis or the Cecil County Outreach Center at 485 Mauldin Avenue in North East from now until Friday, Nov. 5. A center opens in Montgomery County on Monday that also closes Nov. 5.

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