SBA sets up office in city to help tornado victims

November 12, 1994|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Sun Staff Writer

Tracee Thrash was living in the basement of her aunt's West Baltimore rowhouse when a tornado struck Nov. 1.

"I lost just about everything, including my children's clothes and BTC my living room set," Ms. Thrash, 29, recalled yesterday. Family photographs were left "puffy and covered in water spots."

Ms. Thrash, who has four children, is among about two dozen people who have sought financial help this week at a temporary office that the federal Small Business Administration has set up in Baltimore. She was seeking a low-interest loan to replace some of her belongings.

Since Thursday, agency officials have been available at the city school system's headquarters at 200 E. North Avenue. They have offered up to $200,000 in low-interest loans to repair residences and $40,000 to replace personal property, including automobiles.

The storm devastated sections of East and West Baltimore, ripping off roofs and littering streets with other debris. Approximately 90 occupied homes were damaged, and about a dozen buildings had to be destroyed.

About 85 percent of the people in the tornado's path were renters on the west side of town, said Richard McKoy, director of emergency management for the city. "Some of these people had very little before the tornado struck."

He said the city was "leading people by the hand" to get their lives back together.

But so far, business at the SBA's temporary office has been slow, said Wade Butler, an agency official. He said he believed more people would come to the office once information spread through the media.

The temporary office will be open through Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will be closed Sunday.

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