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The Joseph P. D’Alessandro Office Complex in Fort Myers, a current home for Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster assistance and U.S. Small Business Administration loans, has had lines of up to 30 people waiting to get inside since it opened following Hurricane Ian.  

The line is ongoing as FEMA will be granting thousands of dollars to individual qualifiers who apply. And the Small Business Administration will be loaning thousands as well to both homeowners and business owners who apply.  

The key word is “apply.“ 

Below is information for applying for FEMA grants and SBA loans.  


FEMA’s temporary office serving Lee County is at 2295 Victoria Ave. in Fort Myers.  

There are two other ways to register with FEMA, said Ken Higginbotham, the agency’s external affairs officer.  

People can apply by phone by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or online at  

“We encourage everybody,” Higginbotham said. “I mean everyone who is in the impacted area in a designated county to go and get registered. Get into the system. We don’t want people to pre-disqualify themselves. Anybody who sustained any amount of damage, any amount.  

“The programs – local, state, and federal programs – will be available to people with a registration number. That registration number is like the key to open up the door to many, many programs that people may qualify for.”  

FEMA grants can come in a variety of forms such as housing assistance, home repair and home replacement.  

FEMA also can provide funding for medical expenses caused by the hurricane as well as funerals, childcare, transportation, moving and expenses.  

Applicants must be in a presidentially declared disaster area, for Hurricane Ian that includes Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties.  

“People may get a denial letter,” Higginbotham said. “That could be for any reason. Maybe somebody is one digit off on something. It could be a plethora of things. If people get a denial letter, that’s not the end of the road. They can appeal.”  

The average FEMA grant after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was a little more than $7,000, according to FEMA data.  

“It can vary, depending on the inspection of the property,” Higginbotham said of the amounts awarded. “It’s not one size fits all. It depends on the particular situation. Inspectors come out and inspect the property. They enter in the data.  

“We encourage people to keep receipts. It is probably in the best interest of the applicant to wait for the inspection. Again, people want to get going. Keep all the receipts. Document. Document. Document. Pictures. Memos. Notes. Keep all receipts. From everything. It’s best to have more documentation than not enough.”  

Also, beware and be aware of FEMA fraud, he said. Already, there have been reports of Hurricane Ian victims filling out the disaster assistance forms, and they are told they already applied, but they haven’t. Imposters have been filing false FEMA damage reports using actual names, addresses and social security numbers but using the bank account information of a fraudster.  

“Unfortunately, fraud jumps out very quickly in these turn of events,” Higginbotham said. “But there is a process people can take.”  

FEMA fraud victims are encouraged to call the FEMA Fraud Hotline at 1-866-223-0814. Or email 

“We provide the hotline where people can report these situations,” Higginbotham said. “There are unfortunately no preventative measures. And you have to remember, we insure that people’s information is secure. But there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there, and they’re going to take advantage of these things.  

“Unfortunately, where disasters happen, and particularly ones of this magnitude, the less than honorable people come out of the woodwork. They take advantage of those impacted by these events. Protective measures need to be taken.”  


Contrary to the words “small business” in the administration’s name, the SBA loans more money to individuals than to businesses, said Terrell Perry, public affairs specialist for the SBA.  

“We loan more money to homeowners and renters than to businesses during disasters,” Perry said. “Part of our mission is to help homeowners and renters and nonprofits recover as well.”  

People can apply for loans at  

“The way the loan program works, is homeowners, nonprofits and businesses can all apply,” Perry said. “Or they can go to the business recovery center or the disaster recovery center and sit down with someone and apply.  

“We urge people to apply as soon as possible.”  

The interest rate for individuals is 2.18%, and the interest rate for businesses is 3%, Perry said.  

“SBA sends out people who view the property to view the damage and make a determination from there as to the amount of damage sustained,” she said. “Say, for instance, if it’s determined the survivor sustained $50,000 worth of damage, they can apply for $50,000. If they are approved, they can use the whole $50,000 for fixing their home.  

“In large disasters like this, it may take the insurance company longer to get around to applicants. We can grant them a loan.  

When insurance gives them a settlement, they can reimburse the SBA loan.”  

Temporary SBA offices for loan applicants have been set up across Southwest Florida at The HUB at SWFL Inc., 27071 Chamber of Commerce Drive in Bonita Springs; Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral, 360 Santa Barbara Blvd. S. in Cape Coral; The Lake Library, 15290 Bass Road in Fort Myers; The Fort Myers DMS Building, 2295 Victoria Ave., The Naples Players Club, 701 Fifth Avenue S. in Naples;  Veterans Community Park, 1895 Veterans Park Drive in North Naples; and the Home Depot parking lot, 12621 S. McCall Road in Port Charlotte. 

As with FEMA grants, fraudulent activity takes place with SBA loans.  

The SBA recommends contacting the Office of the Inspector General Fraud Line at 1-800-767-0385 for help with fraud. OIG’s Automated Online Complaint System is at

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