Birmingham, AL -- Two special programs have been activated as a result of the Nov. 14 Presidential disaster declaration in Alabama for severe storms and tornadoes, recovery officials announced today.
Both programs are available at no charge to qualified persons coping with tornado-related stress and legal problems.
Crisis Counseling. This outreach and referral program offers free help to people experiencing stress-related problems as a result of the disaster. Administered by the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, it is funded through an immediate services grant from FEMA. The grant will pay for 60 days of crisis counseling for storm-affected individuals in the three most heavily hit, severely damaged counties: Fayette, Walker and Winston. Services include community outreach, consultation, and education.
Particular targets will be children and the elderly since both are especially vulnerable to emotional distress after such disasters. Crisis counseling requests in the remaining 26 declared counties will be handled through existing resources. The counties are Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Cullman, Dale, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jefferson, Lamar, Lawrence, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Pickens, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega and Tuscaloosa.
To access this program, people may call 800-489-3971 or 205-302-9000 and ask for disaster crisis counseling services.
Legal Services. This program provides free assistance to Alabama residents in all 29 declared counties who cannot afford counsel for their disaster-related legal problems. The services are being offered by volunteer Alabama attorneys from the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association through an agreement with FEMA.
The volunteer attorneys can assist tornado victims with such matters as insurance claims, replacement of wills or other legal papers lost in the disaster, help with home repair contracts and contractors, advice on landlord/tenant and other housing problems, and preparation of powers of attorney.
To access this program, residents of the 29 declared counties may call the Alabama State Bar legal helpline at 800-354-6154 and ask for disaster legal services.