WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- If the recent severe storms and flooding left you entangled in a legal issue, free Disaster Legal Services may be able to help.
Those affected by the storms and flooding who have limited income or who are unable to obtain legal counsel on their own may call for free legal services for disaster-related legal problems. To be eligible, disaster survivors need to live, work or own a business in one of the Iowa counties declared for Individual Assistance on August 14, 2010. Those counties are Black Hawk, Cherokee, Clayton, Decatur, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Franklin, Hamilton, Howard, Humboldt, Ida, Jackson, Jasper, Jones, Kossuth, Lee, Lucas, Lyon, Mahaska, Marion, O’Brien, Osceola, Polk, Ringgold, Sioux, Story, Taylor, Union, Warren, Webster, and Wright.
The toll-free number for Disaster Legal Services is 877-775-8882. Callers may receive assistance with issues such as landlord/tenant problems, legal documents lost in the disaster, home repair contracts, and medical and property insurance claims.
Volunteer attorneys in Iowa will staff the legal helpline from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. At other times, callers will be asked to leave a voice-mail message and a volunteer attorney will return the call within 24 hours.
Assistance is not available for cases that could produce a fee. Those cases will be referred to a local attorney referral service.
The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division requested Disaster Legal Services as part of the recovery to help people affected by the disaster declared Aug, 14, 2010 by President Obama. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds the administrative costs of the program, which is coordinated through the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association.
Registering with FEMA is the first step in the recovery process. Even if residents have signed up for aid from local, state or voluntary agencies they must register with FEMA to be considered for federal assistance. Those who are uncertain of their registration status are urged to check for a 9-digit Disaster Registration Number that is assigned upon completion of the FEMA registration process.
State and FEMA disaster officials want to remind Iowans who suffered losses as a result of the this season’s storms and flooding to register for disaster assistance by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for applicants with hearing or speech disabilities. Online registration is available at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
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FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.