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Free Legal Help Available to Alabama Tornado Victims

Are you a storm victim seeking free legal help?
Call LSA toll-free 1-866-456-4995 or click here to apply online

Legal Services Alabama, the largest non-profit law firm in Alabama, will provide free legal help to tornado victims and to municipalities applying for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) thanks to grants from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

LSA is helping individuals make applications for FEMA grant assistance and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans up to the deadline of July 18, 2011, and will continue to assist individuals with appeals of FEMA and SBA denials. LSA is also providing free legal assistance to municipalities and certain community organizations (e.g. volunteer fire departments) in unincorporated areas that are not represented by attorneys and need to file FEMA Requests for Public Assistance as well as future disaster recovery grant applications. LSA assistance is available at any stage of the grant application process including initial applications, assistance with pending applications, and appeals.

“It is imperative that tornado survivors understand the necessity of filing for FEMA and SBA disaster assistance by the July 18, 2011 filing deadline,” according to Charles Yow, Attorney with Legal Services Alabama. Yow said many prospective applicants are hesitant to apply because they don’t have all of their documents or don’t have final decisions from their insurance companies. However, if they do not apply by the deadline, they will not be able to get any FEMA or SBA storm assistance. They also may be unable to get any other recovery assistance that may become available at a later date and may require a FEMA number.

“Regardless of the inevitability of a denial due to lack of documentation or a decision from your insurance company, it is an absolute necessity for people to file for FEMA assistance prior to the July 18th filing deadline,” said Yow.

A recent report from FEMA noted that only about 1% of over 25,000 FEMA applicants declared ineligible have exercised their right to appeal FEMA’s ineligibility determination. Storm survivors who have been denied have sixty days from the date of their FEMA assistance denial letter to file an appeal. Even if they do not have all the documents to support an appeal, they should file an appeal with a statement of intent to supplement the appeal when the additional documentation becomes available.

Storm victims interested in seeking free legal help from LSA should call 1-866-456-4995 or apply online at www.AlabamaLegalHelp.org.

LSA is funded in large part by the federal government through the Legal Services Corporation in Washington, DC. LSA actively provides free civil legal assistance to low-income Alabamians and has been active in the Katrina and BP recovery efforts as well as the current recovery following the tornados of April 27, 2011.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund makes grants to more than 330 eligible organizations identified by Mrs. duPont in her will. The Fund has assets of more than $281 million and has awarded $303 million in grants since 1977. The fund expands access and creates opportunities by investing in people, organizations and communities that were important to Jessie Ball DuPont.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation , headquartered in Baltimore, Md., is a private charitable organization, dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States. It was established in 1948 by Jim Casey, one of the founders of UPS, and his siblings, who named the Foundation in honor of their mother. The primary mission of the Foundation is to foster public policies, human-service reforms, and community supports that more effectively meet the needs of today’s vulnerable children and families. In pursuit of this goal, the Foundation makes grants that help states, cities and neighborhoods fashion more innovative, cost-effective responses to these needs.

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  • LSC

    LSA is a grantee of the Legal Services Corporation.