Mariposa & Yosemite

Some disaster relief on the way for businesses hurt by Ferguson fire

Business owners discuss reopening of the Highway 41 pathway into Yosemite Valley

After nearly a month, Wawona Road (Highway 41) was opened completely, allowing visitors to take the Highway into Yosemite Valley. The closure was extremely impactful for many local business owners.
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After nearly a month, Wawona Road (Highway 41) was opened completely, allowing visitors to take the Highway into Yosemite Valley. The closure was extremely impactful for many local business owners.

Businesses in the Yosemite National Park gateway communities that were affected financially by the Ferguson Fire could now qualify for a government loan of up to $2 million.

The 96,901-acre Ferguson Fire burned for over a month from July 13 to Aug. 19 in Mariposa County. The fire ravaged through areas in Yosemite National Park, Sierra National Forest and Stanislaus National Forest.

Fire activity forced Yosemite National Park into a three-week closure and shut down areas along the Highway 41 and Highway 140 entrances into the park. Those closures caused a large dip in business for many in Oakhurst, Coarsegold and Mariposa, three communities that rely heavily on tourism.

Some reported revenue losses as large as 60 percent.

Small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations in Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties can apply for the US Small Business Administration’s disaster assistance.

Eligibility for the loans is based completely on the financial impact and not on property damage and the assistance is reserved for businesses that unable to recover the financial losses without hardship, the SBA announced in a news release.

“These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact,” said Director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West Tanya N. Garfield.

The loans have an interest rate of less than 4 percent for small businesses and 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years.

Prospective applicants can apply online or print out an application at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Mailed applications should be addressed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX, 76155.

Businesses have until June 4, 2019, to apply.

For more information on the SBA’s disaster assistance, call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or email them at disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Individuals that are hard of hearing should call 1-800-877-8339.

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