HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) want to remind residents impacted by the flooding that occurred in late-June that free legal services are available for eligible flood victims until September 28 .
Volunteer attorneys have been providing free disaster-related legal assistance to low-income individuals affected by the flooding from the late-June storms. This program is administered by the Young Lawyers Division of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, in collaboration with FEMA, and has been in operation since mid-August as part of disaster recovery efforts.
Low-income callers can receive free counseling and advice from a volunteer attorney regarding their disaster-related legal issues. Other callers will receive a referral to a local Pennsylvania-licensed attorney. The service is available 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-932-0311 Ext. 2224 .
Attorneys are available to assist Pennsylvania disaster victims in designated counties with legal services such as:
- Insurance claims for doctor and hospital bills, loss of property, loss of life, etc.
- Replacing wills, drafting powers of attorney and other legal documents lost in the disaster
- Help with home repair contracts and contractors
- Advice on landlord/tenant issues
Disaster victims are encouraged to leave a message on the automated answering system. A volunteer attorney will contact them within 48 hours to discuss their needs. Many problems can be addressed just by speaking with the volunteer lawyer. Issues that could generate any type of attorney's fees cannot be handled by volunteer attorneys. If further representation is required, low-income callers will be referred to a private attorney who may be able to represent them free of charge. All attorneys that provide these services are Pennsylvania-licensed.
Designated counties include Berks, Bradford, Bucks, Carbon, Chester , Columbia , Dauphin, Franklin , Lackawanna , Lancaster , Lebanon , Luzerne, Monroe , Montgomery , Montour, Northampton , Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill, Susquehanna, Wayne , and Wyoming .
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.