ONSLOW COUNTY, NC (WITN) Small businesses suffered major losses from Hurricane Florence and Wednesday officials from the Small Business Administration, or SBA, visited small business owners like Brian Vinciguerra of Jacksonville, who lost his entire business.
Vinciguerra says, "When the storm came it blew off half my roof, and it collapsed my ceiling, and like many businesses and homes around here, once the ceiling collapsed, I had water intrusion, mold and mildew overtook the building, and we've been working everyday, day in and day out, to get everything put back together"
The SBA is currently stationed at 24 disaster recovery and resource centers in North Carolina. Since Hurricane Florence 2,500 loans, totaling $98 million, has been approved.
Linda McMahon, Administrator of the Small Business Administration says, "Normally we guarantee loans from lenders, but in this instance, SBA is the bank and we are the lender, so we want to really rapidly put through these requests, get people qualified, get money into their hands, so that they can get their businesses back up and running, get back in their homes, and restore their property."
Owners say this kind of assistance is not just about the money, but about the livelihood of community members.
Vinciguerra says, "This is my job, this is my passion, this is what I do to bring something fun to my community, and to see that, for all intents and purposes, totally destroyed, and not knowing what to do and where to go and who to look to for information."
Daniel Forrest, Lieutenant Governor says, "We can't afford for any business to decide to pick up and move, or decide not to re-open again. We need everybody back up and running as fast as they can because these small businesses are the life blood of the community."
SBA officials said they will continue to be out in eastern Carolina communities, at those disaster relief centers, as long as they're needed.