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Businesses hurt by water outage available for SBA loans

The city of Vicksburg and the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce are hoping to get area businesses severely affected by the May 17 main waterline leak financial relief of up to $2 million per business.

The waterline crisis forced several restaurants and other businesses to shut down for three days because they were unable provide services.

“The city is looking for certification of substantial economic injury from the governor’s office that will in turn allow for a designation of an emergency from SBA that will help the city get access to low interest loans for businesses that were affected by the water crisis,” said Pablo Diaz, the Chamber’s executive director.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said he was approached by an official with the Small Business Administration about the disaster loan program.

“We just received the information on what we need to do so the governor can declare an emergency,” he said. “We’ve got to get a certification first and we have to find five businesses that were affected and want to use it.”

According to information from SBA, the agency makes an economic injury declaration based on a state certification that at least five small business concerns in a disaster area suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the disaster and need financial assistance that is not available on reasonable terms.

The state certification must be signed by the governor, specify where the disaster occurred, and must be delivered with supporting information to the Disaster Assistance Field Operations Center serving the jurisdiction within 120 days after the disaster occurred.

“They (the state) have to demonstrate that at least five businesses are damaged 40 percent or more,” said SBA spokesperson Kathy Cook. “To do that, we have to look at what the businesses were doing the same time last year and what they were doing this year. We use historical sales information and compare against what happened.”

“We’ve reached out to all of our membership, and we hope any business that can quantify that they were adversely affected that they reach out to us or the city, because we are looking for evidence of those businesses were affected financially,” Diaz said

Diaz said four businesses have contacted the Chamber reporting losses from the water crisis totaling $63,000. He said the reporting businesses include restaurants and manufacturers that use water in their business.

A valve on the city’s 36-inch main waterline in the city’s well field broke about 11 a.m. May 17, forcing the city to declare an emergency and left the city without water for three days while contractors worked to fix the underground line that was topped with about 10 feet of water from the Mississippi River, which was at the time several feet above flood stage.

The contractors were forced to build a dike and pump water out so they could reach the damaged line.

Diaz said any business owner or manager who believes their business had severe economic damage because of the water crisis can call the Chamber at 601-636-1012.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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