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Now 102 days after Superstorm Sandy struck the New York City metro area and New Jersey shore, the federal government has approved more than $1.1 billion in disaster loans to 16,800 residents and businesses in areas affected by the storm, the U.S. Small Business Administration said.

The SBA, which administers the government disaster loan program for individuals and businesses, maintains its national customer service center in Buffalo, handling telephone calls and emails from victims after disasters. It also has loan-processing facilities elsewhere, and field offices around the country, and currently has a staff of 2,400 supporting the Sandy relief efforts in seven states and Puerto Rico.

“Getting money into the hands of individuals and businesses in the aftermath of [Superstorm] Sandy continues to be one of our top priorities,” said SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. Sandy has been ranked as the third-largest disaster in U.S. history, after the hurricane combo of Katrina, Rita and Wilma in August and September 2005 and the Northridge, Calif., earthquake in January 1994. Those disasters resulted in $10.8 billion and $4 billion in SBA disaster relief loans, respectively.

Congress recently passed emergency legislation to provide SBA’s disaster assistance program with another $799 million in funds, including $520 million for disaster loan subsidy costs to support $5 billion in low-interest loans. The allocation also includes $249 million for the disaster program’s administrative costs, $20 million to support SBA’s partner agencies and $10 million for information technology, financial management and other operating costs.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com