Free Legal Services Available to Katrina Victims

September 19, 2005

Volunteer attorneys are providing free disaster-related assistance to Alabamians affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The service is coordinated through the Alabama State Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyers Division and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. It can be accessed by calling the Disaster Legal Services toll free helpline at 1-800-354-6154. Note that the days and hours of operation of the help line are from Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

All disaster-related legal assistance given through the hotline is free of charge. Persons in the 10 Alabama disaster-designated counties declared eligible for the FEMA Individual Assistance program, and all non-state residents anywhere in Alabama who are storm evacuees, may seek legal help regarding:

* Insurance claims for doctor and hospital bills, loss of property, loss of life;
* Replacing wills, drafting powers of attorney and other legal documents lost because of the disaster;
* Help with home repair contracts and contractors;
* Advice on problems with landlords;
* Help with guardianships and other family-related legal issues including consumer, domestic and probate matters; and
* Other issues related to state and local assistance.

The 10 counties eligible for Individual Assistance are: Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Greene, Hale, Mobile, Pickens, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, and Washington.

The Alabama State Bar is also working with the Mississippi and Louisiana State Bars to coordinate efforts to create a registry of free office space to be made available for use by displaced attorneys. This will reportedly help to expedite service to clients throughout the Gulf Coast disaster counties.

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