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Financial aid on the way for Ellicott City flood victims

Damage along Main Street in historic Ellicott City, Md., is viewed Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, after the city was ravaged by floodwaters Saturday night, killing two people and causing devastating damage to homes and businesses, officials said. Virtually every home or business along the street sustained at least some damage, and the cost of repairs could reach the hundreds of millions of dollars, said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. (AP Photo/Juliet Linderman)

Damage along Main Street in historic Ellicott City, Md., is viewed Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, after the city was ravaged by floodwaters Saturday night. (AP Photo/Juliet Linderman)

With local organizations raising more than $500,000 for flood recovery efforts in Ellicott City, a newly formed Ellicott City Recovery Fund Committee is meeting on Monday for the first time to draft an application process to distribute those funds to residents and business owners.

Howard County Councilman Jon Weinstein, who is leading the committee, hopes to have a process in place within 10 to 14 days for people to apply and get the money disbursed. His vision is to have particular areas of focus to help the “macro” community, including helping residents and businesses but also investing in projects that help the historic district as a whole.

While $500,000 — raised primarily through the United Way of Central Maryland and the Ellicott City Partnership — is a lot of money from a crowdfunding perspective, it’s only a drop in the bucket compared to what’s needed to bring Ellicott City’s historic district back to life, said Weinstein.

“When you step back and look at the scale of impact, it really is just chipping away at the iceberg, really,” he said. “We know there are going to be continued needs beyond this initial period of reaction to a horrible event. What’s next is sort of a sustained effort to help those affected and to get the historic district running.”

The committee will have about a dozen members including several county and state officials as well representatives from United Way of Central Maryland and a local faith group.

Recovery efforts have honed in on Ellicott City’s historic district, but the storm damage has hurt the entire county, said Weinstein.

“This is one of the top destinations for people coming to Howard County,” he said. Merriweather Post Pavilion is the No. 1 tourist destination in the county, followed by the Ellicott City’s historic district.

At the federal level, the Small Business Administration announced Friday that it has opened up low-interest disaster loans for flood victims.

Businesses and private nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million to fix or replace real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets that were damaged in the July 30 flood that dropped 6 inches of rain on the historic thoroughfare in less than two hours.

The SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans for small businesses, nonprofits and other types of enterprises to meet capital needs. That loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage, the SBA said.

Homeowners can also apply for up to $200,000 in loans for damaged or destroyed real estate. Both homeowners and renters can apply for loans of up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property.

Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase of up to 20 percent if it can be used for verified mitigation or preventive purposes — for instance, a safe room or storm shelter to protect property and occupants from future storm damage, the agency said.

Interest rates for loans can be as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.6 percent for nonprofits and 1.7 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.  The loan amount and terms are set by the SBA based on each applicant’s financial situation, the agency said.