Friday, October 12, 2012

Free Legal Assistance Available For Storm Survivors

A toll-free legal aid line is taking calls from survivors of this summer's derecho in designated West Virginia counties. These counties are Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Monroe, Nicholas, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood and Wyoming. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. The service, which allows callers to request the assistance of a lawyer, is a partnership between the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (www.abanet.org/disaster), a partnership of national legal services support entities (www.disasterlegalaid.org), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.fema.gov).

Survivors facing legal issues may call 877-331-4259 24 hours a day to the message line to request assistance. Phone lines are staffed during the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and callers may leave a message after those times. Callers should identify that they are seeking FEMA legal assistance, and should identify what county they are located in. Survivors who qualify for assistance will be matched with West Virginia lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal help.

The types of legal assistance available include:

  • Assistance with securing FEMA and other government benefits available to disaster survivors
  • Assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims
  • Help with home repair contracts and contractors
  • Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the disaster
  • Assisting in consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures
  • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems
  • Counseling on landlord/tenant problems

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