Following Callaway County's approval for FEMA individual assistance last week, confusion looms for some business owners as to where to turn for help.
A group of 13 southern Callaway business owners impacted by this summer's historic flooding met Monday morning at Capital Bluffs Event Center in search of information on how to move forward on the road to recovery. Representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Callaway County and Missouri State Emergency Management Agencies were in attendance to pass along information.
"There's some grey areas here with FEMA. I'm not sure what role they play for us," said Danny Baumgartner, owner of the Capital Bluffs Event Center and the Turkey Creek Golf Course.
The primary area of confusion for business owners is whether or not they are eligible for individual assistance from FEMA. However, there were no representatives from FEMA at the meeting to provide answers.
"It would just be nice to have these things cleared up by FEMA themselves at these meetings," Baumgartner said.
FEMA media relations Manager John Mills said FEMA does not provide individual grants to businesses, only homeowners and renters. He explained any help towards businesses would come from the SBA. However, businesses, homeowners and renters may have purchased flood insurance backed by FEMA's National Flood Insurance program.
"The U.S. Small Business Administration provides disaster loans to businesses," Mills said. "Homeowners, renters and businesses may register for federal disaster assistance with FEMA, but businesses will be referred to the SBA."
Mills said he was not aware of Monday's meeting at the Capital Bluffs Event Center. He also said FEMA has so far paid about $126,000 in flood insurance claims for policyholders and provided about $35,000 in Individual Assistance grants to homeowners and renters.
Michelle Kidwell, meeting organizer and Callaway County Emergency Management director said FEMA was "advised" of Monday's meeting during her previous meetings with them.
SBA public information officer Corey Williams said he wished FEMA was in attendance Monday to clarify confusion.
"I don't want to speak on behalf of FEMA and cause any further confusion. I just want to get the word out about what the SBA can do for these businesses," Williams said.
Williams said SBA's loans are available to businesses to assist their economic and physical damages. Now's the time to reply; the deadline to register for the SBA's physical damage disaster loans is Sept. 9. The deadline to apply for economic injury disaster loans is April 9.
"Twenty-five percent of small businesses that are affected by a disaster fail within a year. So, that's why it's so imperative for me to assist small business owners with determining their options with the SBA. I want to make sure that businesses can sustain funding to remain operational," Williams said.