Legal Services Alabama (LSA), the largest nonprofit law firm in Alabama, provides free legal help to tornado victims applying for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) thanks to grants from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Legal Services Corporation.
By February 8, 2012 three Alabama counties (Perry, Chilton, Jefferson) were designated for federal disaster assistance for individuals, households and businesses as part of Alabama’s federal disaster declaration for storms and tornadoes that struck the state January 22-23.
There are two types of disaster assistance programs available from FEMA: Individual and Household Programs that provides money and direct services. Each has eligibility requirements. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides low-interest loans for damage to property owned by homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofit organizations that are not fully covered by insurance. Legal Services Alabama is helping individuals make applications for FEMA assistance and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, and will continue to assist individuals with appeals of FEMA and SBA denials.
"People have to understand the necessity of filing for FEMA and SBA disaster assistance by the filing deadline of April 2," according to Jimmy Fry, Executive Director of Legal Services Alabama. Fry 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.
"Even if they are sure that they will be denied because they have not yet heard from their insurance company or they don’t have needed documentation, people must file for FEMA assistance prior to the deadline," said Fry.
Legal Services Alabama is a nonprofit organization providing free civil legal assistance to low-income individuals. 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 a grant from 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 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.