IOWA DERECHO 2020

Tour of damaged Czech Village highlights aid for small businesses after Iowa derecho

Small Business Administration taking loan applications

Gov. Kim Reynolds (middle), Czech Village real estate investor Mary Kay Novak McGrath (right) and U.S. Small Business Ad
Gov. Kim Reynolds (middle), Czech Village real estate investor Mary Kay Novak McGrath (right) and U.S. Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza (far right) tour small businesses Tuesday in the Czech Village affected by the Aug. 10 derecho in Cedar Rapids. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
/

CEDAR RAPIDS — She lost trees, roofs and windows on her properties, but Mary Kay Novak McGrath hasn’t lost her optimism for recovery and restoration in Cedar Rapids’ historic Czech Village.

“I think we have to be, you know, we have to be optimistic,” she said after leading a walking tour Tuesday morning of Czech Village for Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza.

Novak apologized for how good the 16th Street SW strip of the neighborhood looked because “people took it upon themselves to get everything cleaned up” in the wake of the Aug. 10 derecho.

Carranza noticed and was impressed by the cleanup efforts as well as Iowans’ “resiliency and adaptation.”

“I know you were devastated based on the corn crops and the fatalities as well as many of the electrical power issues, but (businesses) are functioning,” she said. “So I’m very encouraged. Sure it’s devastation. Sure it’s overwhelming here. It’s a one-two punch. It’s three punches — a civil unrest and the natural disaster and then there’s also the COVID-19. Even with that, they’ve retained their employees and they are open for business in many cases.”

On their tour of Czech Village businesses, Reynolds and Carranza saw local damage from the derecho that caused an estimated $4 billion worth of destruction across the state, according to the governor’s application for federal disaster assistance.

They saw the roof damage at Lucky’s. Cafe Saint Pio remains closed while waiting for windows to be replaced. Soko Outfitters has reopened, but sustained water damage. The brewing process at Lion Bridge Brewing Company was interrupted during 10 days without electricity.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

They also stopped at the iconic Sykora Bakery that was closed for three days after the derecho — a much quicker reopening than after the 2008 flood that dumped more than 6 feet of water on the sweet shop.

“We came back from the flood; we’ll come back from this,” manager Marna Trska told Carranza and Reynolds.

“Iowa strong,” Novak said. “I feel like we’re like the little engine that could. We just get rolling and then, boom. But we just keep coming back, keep coming back.”

And the SBA wants to help in that comeback, said Carranza, who called the tour “unique ... (with) “a level of engagement that I didn’t expect.”

In addition to seeing the damage, Carranza said she visited Cedar Rapids to reassure small businesses that SBA disaster recovery benefits are available to them.

The SBA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are coordinating their efforts in Iowa; and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will visit next week to survey crop damage, Reynolds said.

The state has 30 days to add more counties to the disaster list, and Reynolds believes FEMA individual assistance will be approved for more counties besides Linn. FEMA is making assessments in seven counties.

“The assessments are taking place, our team is on the ground and they’re working diligently to make that happen,” she said.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

With Linn County approved for SBA assistance, “all of the counties that are surrounding Linn County also qualify for the SBA resources,” Reynolds said. “So that has a great impact on that surrounding areas.”

Linn County’s individual assistance was approved first because of the amount of data about the damage that was captured in the days following the derecho, including surveillance from airplanes, she said.

The governor said she also has been encouraged by Iowans’ doggedness in the wake of the storm.

“They’re like, ‘OK, but one more thing, we are going to get through this, we’re going to survive, we can do it’ and already a lot of them started the rebuild efforts,” Reynolds said. “So that’s inspiring to see that the tenacity, the resilience is so important to our state into our overall economy.”

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

Merchants, homeowners and renters can apply

Through the SBA, disaster assistance loans of up to $2 million are available to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.

SBA also can lend money to businesses and homeowners for the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize future damage. Homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged and destroyed real estate, and homeowners and renters can borrow up to $40,000 for personal property damages.

Interest rates are as low as 1.188 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. The interest rate for businesses will be 3 percent and 2.75 percent for nonprofits.

Application may be made at disasterassistance.sba.gov, by calling the SBA at (800) 659-2955 or emailing disasrercustomerservice@sba.gov.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

The SBA also established a Virtual Business Recovery Center to answer questions and explain the application process from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at FOCWAssistance@sba.com or (800) 659-2955.

The deadline for property damage is Oct. 19 while the deadline to apply for economic injury is May 20, 2021.

Separately, homeowners and renters in Linn County can apply for grants or direct payments — not SBA loans — under FEMA’s Individual Assistance program. Register at DisasterAssistance.gov.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.