Help available to weather the financial storm | Editorial

Times are tough. Retirement investment plans have taken a beating. Local businesses are scrambling to keep doors open and paychecks coming.

If you’ve tightened your belt and find you’re on the last notch, take note: Help is available locally as you weather this financial storm.

— Low-interest business loans from SBA: The Small Business Administration is offering loans at 4 percent interest to help businesses offset financial losses sustained during the Dec. 12 to Jan. 5 storm. This includes loss of sales and inability to ship merchandise or perform work because of the storms. Application deadline is in October. Contact the SBA Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center, (800) 659-2955; or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

— Low-interest farm loans from USDA: Loans of 3.75 percent are available to cover farm losses in San Juan County through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. Loans can be used to repair rain and snow damage to agricultural land and structures. Application deadline is in September. Call program manager Mark Turner, (360) 354-5658.

— Rental and utility assistance: The Family Resource Center offers assistance paying rent and town utilities to those meeting income guidelines. Call Joyce Sobel, 378-5246.

OPALCO can help low-income members pay winter heating bills. You can get a total of $250 in assistance. Call 376-3550.

— Food: Visit the Friday Harbor Food Bank, open Wednesdays and Saturdays. Call 378-4640. Other assistance is available through the county Department of Social and Health Services. Call 378-4196. You’ve supported these programs, now they’re here for you.

— Employment: Call Minnie Knych, Northwest Workforce Development Council, 378-4662. Another good local resource: Island Staffing Services, 378-8367.

— Crisis line: If you feel distraught, get help. Call Compass Health, 378-2669; or the 24-hour crisis line, (800) 584-3578. Don’t wait to call — your part of the fabric of this community.

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