After New Year's Eve Bridgeport Fire, City Opens Disaster Relief Center

By:  Gabriella Iannetta Justin Schecker
NBC Connecticut

The city of Bridgeport is opening a temporary Disaster Loan Outreach Center following a New Year's Eve fire that displaced more than 120 people.

“It was the worst devastating thing I ever went through in my whole life, just awful,” Claire Marchetti said of the fire that took her Charles Street condo.

Marchetti has been staying at a friend’s place since the fire and donations are helping replace some of what she lost.

Marchetti was one of the first to fill out the paperwork applying for a low-interest disaster relief loan from the Small Business Administration on Tuesday afternoon.

On Jan. 26, Senator Chris Murphy, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim and the senior area manager of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Frank Alvarado announce they opened a temporary relief center at the Margaret Morton Government Center for victims.

“We’re not a bank, we don’t have the same types of stringent qualifications,” said Reid Hoke from the SBA. “We do try to find a way to help people understanding that they’ve lost everything”

The center will help homeowners, renters and business owners impacted by fire and help them recover. Officials want people affected by the fire to apply for financial relief through federal SBA low-interest loans. In addition, victims will be able to come to the center to apply for assistance and receive in-person help, a statement put out Murphy's office said.

The federal loan program allows renters to borrow up to $40,000 and homeowners can apply for up to $200,000, Hoke said.

“This SBA program is a lifeline to families that have nowhere else to go,” Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) said.