Items remained strewn on the ground inside a Dollar Tree in Ridgecrest. The business is not expected to reopen until September.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved California's request that the federal government make disaster assistance available to businesses and residents affected by the large earthquakes that struck the Ridgecrest area last month.

By declaring the area a disaster, the SBA signaled Wednesday it is prepared to extend low-interest loans to qualified people and entities in Kern and San Bernardino counties, as well as the neighboring counties of Inyo, Kings, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura.

Businesses and nonprofits may qualify for loans of up to $2 million to fix or replace affected real estate and business assets, according to a news release by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who requested the disaster declaration earlier this week.

Homeowners may receive loans of up to $200,000 to pay for repair or replacement of real estate damaged or destroyed during July's quakes. Homeowners and renters may also be eligible for up to $40,000 to fix or replace personal property harmed by the quake, Newsom's release said.

It also said additional money may be available to help businesses and homeowners "protect, prevent or minimize future disaster damage."

Applications can be completed online at or by calling the SBA at 800-659-2955. Applicants may also email to get application information. People with hearing problems can call 800-877-8339.

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