Mr. Tighe Goes To Washington
Gino Tighe figured he was pretty well set up with his family business insured for up to a million bucks in the event of flooding and water damage. He figured wrong. The Pennsylvania business owner found himself facing more than fifteen feet of flood water when the Susquehanna River overflowed its banks last September. More than $2 million worth of machinery was destroyed, not even counting the damage to the building itself.
Tighe said that a Small Business Administration loan would have helped him recover from the water damage, but not at the 6% interest rate that is currently offered. As a result, Mr. Tighe has taken his case to Washington DC, testifying before a subcommittee examining the role of the federal government in disaster aid.
A new bill, the Disaster Loan Fairness Act, would shrink interest rates on disaster relief loans to a much more manageable 1%. The bill was proposed and sponsored by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazleton) and assigned as House Bill 3042.
Tighe offered testimony of his personal struggle, the devastation to the business begun by his father in 1989, as well as the $79000 in loss compensation that was approved by the SBA, far short of the amount needed for proper damage cleanup and water restoration.
A 1% county loan of $100,000 gave him the much needed funds to restore his business, but in his mind, while the county came through, the federal government dropped the ball, refusing to answer his requests for aid amidst a storm of paperwork, red tape, and general government deadweight.
One of the most convincing arguments came from Rep. Barletta, who pointed out that the government sends billions of dollars in federal disaster aid overseas with no interest at all, while US citizens losing their home or business end up looking at considerable interest levels in order to secure the water damage restoration assistance they need following a disaster.
“And do you know what the payback is?” Barletta continued. “There is no payback. They don’t have to pay it back. So I would tell Mr. Tighe, if he wanted to move, maybe we want to say, ‘Maybe you should move to Pakistan, where we would have offered a zero-percent loan and you wouldn’t have to pay the money back.’ … We are trying to keep manufacturers and people in business, sir. We are not trying to make a profit.”