CAGUAS, Puerto Rico – Homeowners and renters in the 25 southwest Puerto Rico municipalities that were approved for disaster assistance for the recent earthquakes may apply for assistance from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Dec. 28, 2019, earthquake and continuing aftershocks have affected Adjuntas, Arecibo, Cabo Rojo, Ciales, Corozal, Guánica, Guayanilla, Hormigueros, Jayuya, Juana Díaz, Lajas, Lares, Las Marías, Maricao, Mayagüez, Morovis, Orocovis, Peñuelas, Ponce, Sabana Grande, San Germán, San Sebastián, Utuado, Villalba and Yauco.
Residents in those municipalities are encouraged to apply for FEMA disaster grants, which can help pay for:
- Temporary housing, including rental assistance, if the home is unlivable.
- Replacing uninsured personal property.
- Medical, dental, funeral expenses, transportation, child care, moving, storage and other serious earthquake-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, Government of Puerto Rico and charitable aid programs.
FEMA grants can also supplement what is available from the Government of Puerto Rico and therefore a separate application for the grant is required. You must apply with FEMA to be considered for FEMA assistance.
There are several ways to apply for FEMA disaster assistance:
- Online at DisasterAssistance.gov or DisasterAssistance.gov/es for Spanish.
- By phone at 800-621-3362 (FEMA); or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Multilingual operators are avialable. Press 2 for SPanish and press 3 for other languages. Telephone lines are open from 8 a.m. to midnight daily.
- Use the FEMA Mobile App or en español for Spanish.
- In person with FEMA disaster survivor assistance teams that are going door-to-door near your home and are also visiting shelters.
- At a disaster recovery center. Visit www.FEMA.gov/DRC to find the closest one. Or text “DRC” and your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA).
American Sign Language interpreters are available, either in person or via a Video Remote Interpreter app. Just ask the FEMA representatives you meet.
If earthquake survivors have insurance and haven’t already done so, they should file a claim with their insurance company. FEMA cannot legally help with expenses covered by insurance or charitable aid programs.
How to apply for an SBA loan:
- Visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
- Call SBA at 800-659-2955; TTY users may call 800-877-8339.
- Email DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov for more information.
SBA opened two business recovery centers – in Ponce and Yauco – to help businesses affected by the earthquakes. SBA representatives provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the application. Small businesses and private nonprofit organizations may be eligible for physical and economic injury disaster loans.
The SBA business recovery center locations: (Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.)
El Centro de Desarrollo de Pequeñas Empresas y Tecnología (SBTDC)
Inter-American University Campus
104 Turpeaux Industrial Park, Mercedita
Ponce, PR 00715
La Avenida Santiago Vivaldi y Calle Betances
La Placita, Mercado Abierto
Yauco, PR 00698 Homeowners and renters also may be eligible for low-interest disaster loans from the SBA to cover home losses not fully compensated by insurance. SBA loans are available to homeowners for up to $200,000 for a primary residence. Homeowners and renters may qualify for up to $40,000 for personal property. Businesses can apply for up to $2 million in loans for business property losses not fully insured.
Next to insurance, an SBA low-interest disaster loan is the primary source of funds for property repairs and for replacing contents destroyed in the recent earthquakes.