Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to Franklin County residents and business owners affected by severe storms in April.

The U.S. Small Business Administration announced this week that Jefferson County and surrounding counties qualify for the federal loan program as a result of storms that occurred April 16-26.

SBA declared a disaster in response to a May 17 request from Gov. Jay Nixon.

The disaster declaration makes SBA assistance available in Jefferson County and the neighboring counties of Franklin, St. Francois, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve and Washington and the neighboring county of Monroe in Illinois.

Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations whose property was damaged or destroyed by the storms.

SBA representatives will be on hand at the SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center to issue loan applications, answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each individual complete an application.

The SBA center is located at the De Soto Public Library, 712 S. Main St., De Soto.

The center will be open through June 6, and the hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and it is closed on Memorial Day.

No appointment is necessary.

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Businesses of any size and private, nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets.

SBA can also lend additional funds to homeowners and businesses to help with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.

Interest rates can be as low as 1.688 percent for homeowners and renters, 2.875 percent for private, nonprofit organizations and 4 percent for businesses, with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955, e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov or visiting SBA’s website at http://www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339.

The filing deadline to return applications for property damage is July 22, 2013. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Feb. 21, 2014.