OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials state that a toll-free hot line 1-866-519-7099 for legal assistance is now available for Washington state residents affected by the January 6-16, 2009, severe winter storm, landslides, mudslides and flooding. Operated by the American Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division, the service is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is recorded in English, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. Callers should leave a message. The Young Lawyer's Division will monitor the line daily, and a volunteer lawyer will contact the caller, Monday-Friday, to gather more information.
"Many potential problems are easily resolved once people understand their rights under the law," said Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn. "If an issue is more complex, and the person needs representation by a lawyer, he or she will be advised on how to obtain one."
A partnership of the Washington Emergency Management Division, FEMA and the Young Lawyers Division, the legal service has been set up to assist the residents of the counties declared to receive FEMA disaster assistance: Benton, Clallam, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, King, Kittitas, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, Wahkiakum and Whatcom counties.
Those with legal issues arising from the severe storm, flooding and mudslides during the January, 2009, period should call 1-866-519-7099 and leave a message, including their name, daytime contact phone number, and information about their disaster related legal needs. The legal needs may be:
- Assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims;
- Help with home repair contracts and contractors;
- Replacement of wills and other legal documents destroyed in the disaster;
- Replacement of lost documents;
- Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems;
- Counseling on landlord/tenant problems.
Callers do not have to be registered with FEMA, but the service is designed to answer disaster-related legal questions. Lawyers willing to volunteer their legal services should also call this hotline.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.