Residents in Hillsborough and Polk counties with properties damaged by sinkholes during January's record freeze may now apply for low-interest federal disaster loans.
Loans of up to $200,000 are available for damaged or destroyed real estate, and loans of up to $40,000 are available to repair or replace personal property, according to the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Those interested can apply at the Plant City Visitors Center, 1702 N Park Road in Plant City. The center is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., this coming Monday through Wednesday.
Applications also are available at the U.S. Small Business Administration's Web site, sba.gov, by phone at 1-800-877-8339 or by e-mail at disaster firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dozens of sinkholes opened up in the mostly agricultural Plant City and Dover areas after farmers pumped billions of gallons of water onto crops in an attempt to protect them from the 11-night freeze that began Jan. 3.
Swiftmud will hold a final community meeting about the freeze's implications Wednesday morning. Officials are considering new caps on groundwater use during cold snaps.