With processing completed on more than 96 percent of rebuilding loan applications, the Small Business Administration has approved more than $9 billion in financing to the small businesses, homeowners and renters in the Gulf Coast region who were victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. In contrast, $4 billion in loans were made in the year after the Northridge, Calif., earthquake, the agency's previous record disaster response.

For those whose application has been approved and who are ready to start rebuilding, the SBA urges you to call its Customer Service Center at 800/659-2955 or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov and arrange for a loan closing.

Through May 7, the SBA has approved 140,131 disaster loans to homeowners, renters and businesses in the disaster areas, with an approval rate of 42.8 percent. The total includes 120,123 disaster loans for homeowners and renters for $7.14 billion, and 20,008 loans to businesses for $1.94 billion. More than $1.07 billion in loan funds have been disbursed to borrowers.

While the application deadline for loans to repair physical damage has passed, some small businesses that suffered financial losses after the hurricanes may still apply for SBA economic injury loans: Small-business owners in Louisiana and Texas hit by Hurricane Rita have until June 26 to apply, and July 24 is the deadline for Florida businesses that suffered losses after Hurricane Wilma. (The deadlines for Hurricane Katrina economic injury loans were May 29 and June 14.)