Eight Northeast Mississippi counties have been declared disaster areas following severe weather and tornadoes that occurred Feb. 28 and March 1.

The U.S. Small Business Administration's declaration allows businesses and individuals to receive low-interest loans to recover from structural damage and economic loss, according to a recent news release from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

The counties in the declaration are Union, Benton, Lafayette, Lee, Marshall, Pontotoc, Prentiss and Tippah.

Applications for loans for structural damage may be filed until May 9; applications for economic loss will be taken until Dec. 10. Residents may file for assistance at the Union County Chancery Clerk's office and at the Pontotoc County Courthouse beginning at 8 a.m. today.

The federal government, through the SBA, makes low-interest loans available to individuals and businesses that suffer damage in a natural disaster. The loans, which must be repaid, fluctuate on a variable interest rate.

- Eileen Bailey

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