NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Aquidneck Island businesses affected by a week-long natural gas outage last month are now receiving assistance from the federal government.
The U.S. Small Business Administration opened up a special Business Recovery Center Tuesday morning. Federal employees will be on hand to assist business owners who lost income and hours of operation due to the incident, which left thousands of customers without gas service.
U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, along with Gov. Gina Raimondo, requested a disaster declaration from the federal government to help people in the communities of Middletown and Newport recover.
“I commend the immediate response to the gas outage here in Newport, which got the gas back on as quickly and safely as possible,” Reed said in a statement. “I hope that local small businesses and non-profits will take advantage of these federal resources to help them get back on their feet.”
Low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans will be available for qualified business owners. Besides the federal loans, the state of Rhode Island is also offering emergency loans.
The assistance center is located at the Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina at 49 America’s Cup Avenue and will be open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
There is no cost to apply for a loan and businesses can borrow up to $25,000 without collateral. Businesses who want to apply for a loan are asked to do so by Nov. 15.
The massive outage was caused by a dramatic drop in natural gas pressure from National Grid’s transmission system. As of last week, the utility had paid out some $360,000 in reimbursements related to damage, loss, and inconvenience.