HUD grant opens doors for small businesses impacted by August flood

HUD grant opens doors for small businesses impacted by August flood

ST. AMANT, LA (WAFB) - Small business owners who were turned away for financial assistance and SBA loans after the August 2016 flood are being given another chance to get the money they need to reopen their doors.

There's little bit of everything at this small business along Hwy. 431 in St. Amant. Duckroost Seafood is a hot spot for locals. Owner, David Roques, knows most of them by name.

"Most of my customers I've seen, I know," said Roques.

He's got a breakfast, lunch, and dinner crowd too. Roques says business is good, but it took a huge hit last August.

"We sandbagged, we pumped, and in about two hours, it went over our sandbags, up to about four feet of water in the store," said Roques.

He says the flood destroyed everything inside. Roques had flood insurance, but it did not cover contents or the money he lost while Duckroost was closed for nearly three months for repairs.

"We went to our bank. They made us a loan and made it easy, but there were costs. We had to pay fees, interest until the flood insurance came through and got a final check," said Roques.

Duckroost is on a long list of businesses impacted by the flood. Former Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez says he's been making his rounds.

"We received a list from the assessor and there's about 85 businesses that were affected," said Martinez.

Martinez, who is now an outreach coordinator for South Central Planning and Development Commission, is trying to get the word out about a HUD gr ant for small business owners being made available through the Restore Louisiana Program.

"If they have 1 to 50 employees, they'll qualify for this loan or they have $10,000 out of pocket expenses that they can show, they will qualify for this loan," said Martinez.

South Central Planning expects to have $12 million to begin offering loans in July. Regional planner, Anna Choudhuri, says the loans will be interest free, with nothing down, and no out of pocket expenses for loans that are paid off in five years. She added businesses that were not damaged by the flood, but still took a financial hit from it also qualify.

"If it's a business that had customer base in the 51 parish area [impacted by the flood], if they can show that they lost revenue from 2014 to 2015 to 2016, then that qualifies them," said Choudhuri.

Roques says the loan will help him recoup some of the money he lost trying to save his business during the historic event. "For me, it would help cover all these costs that weren't really ever covered by anyone else," said Roques.

It also means he can, once again, invest in upgrades to make Duckroost an even better place for locals to visit. The deadline to apply for the loan is June 30. The money will be dispersed between July and December 31.

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