HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday that he expects the number of applications from Connecticut businesses and homeowners for federal disaster assistance following Superstorm Sandy to surpass those filed after the remnants of Hurricane Irene hit last year.
During a conference call with chambers of commerce, he said 948 businesses and 3,832 homeowners have already applied for financial help from the federal government. That's compared with 1,321 businesses and 5,654 homeowners filing applications over a long period of time following Irene.
"So this is certainly going to surpass our prior storm, Irene, where we did a lot of this work. And I think it's going to surpass quite a bit, ultimately," he said, adding that the administration wants to make sure no one loses the opportunity to access benefits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration.
Friday's call focused on aid available to business. The SBA has set up centers, along with FEMA, in Bridgeport, New Haven, Greenwich, Old Saybrook, Guilford, Groton, Milford and Pawcatuck, where businesses can learn more about loans for physical damage or a cash flow interruption and receive one-on-one assistance.
They can also apply for loans online at www.sba.gov/sandy or call 1-800-659-2955, seven days a week.
"We are in a position to speedily turn these things around," said U.S. Small Business Administrator Karen Mills, who has toured Connecticut's hard-hit shoreline and visited with business owners.
Mills said small businesses interested in getting contracts to help with the recovery effort can locate those contracts on the www.sba.gov/sandy website. FEMA does not provide any grants or loans to businesses.
Peter Gioia, vice president and economist at the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said the direct business damage was more concentrated along Connecticut's coastline. But he said some of the losses from Superstorm Sandy are more intense.
"A lot of businesses along the coastline, they had flooding and the like, and it's going to take them a while to get back in operation," he said.
Gioia expects some businesses affected by the storm ultimately will not survive. He said the ability of a business to survive serious storm damage can depend on how long they can last without cash flow during rebuilding and whether they are able to get insurance coverage to rebuild and at what cost.
Gioia said the negative economic effects of Superstorm Sandy in Connecticut will be felt more strongly in cities and towns where the damage occurred. But the state itself will probably break even, he said, because there will be rebuilding.
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