Aiken among counties eligible for disaster loans
A parched landscape with cracks in the ground thirsting for moisture, weeds competing with other vegetation in a struggle to choke the remnants of water from the soil and a man with a wide brimmed hat, sun-seared skin, looking toward the sky wondering when it will rain – these are images of areas associated with erratic rainfall or those that are suffering from drought.
And although one might not see a windstorm with tumbleweeds blowing across a barren stretch of land, the drought that began Dec. 15 impacted Aiken County, as it was one of seven South Carolina counties on the Georgia border that’s eligible for federal emergency small business disaster loans.
Small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations in those counties that experienced some type of impact because of the drought are eligible to apply for the loans through the Small Business Administration, Michael Lampton, Small Business Administration spokesman said. The loans are contingent on the nature of the incident.
If the drought causes one of the aforementioned businesses to lose its ability to pay bills, account for payroll and retire fixed debts that could have been addressed under normal circumstances, they’ll be eligible for those loans, said Lampton. The loans are not to be confused with lost sales or profit.
Those businesses involved with agricultural production, farming and ranching are not eligible to apply for loans through the Small Business Administration, with the exception of aquaculture enterprises. Nurseries are also eligible to apply.
“The Small Business Administration can provide assistance to the those businesses in the community that were impacted,” said Lampton, in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “This infusion of working capital can help sustain the operations because they’ve lost revenue as a result of the drought.”
But, what do area businesses do to cope with limited or erratic rainfall, evaporation and the challenge of keeping a place sufficiently irrigated?
River Rich Hunt Club’s Watson Bode was able to weather the storm, or lack thereof, by having sufficient irrigation on his property. Bode uses a sprinkler system on his garden every three days, and his flowing wells and an electric pump on his property to keep his ponds full.
“The sandy land doesn’t hold moisture,” said Bode. “It would have to rain every five days. And for the past three or four years, rainfall seems to come to a stop every May.”