Disaster assistance includes free legal help

Published 8:36 am Monday, June 6, 2011

If the severe storms and tornadoes of April 16 have left you in a legal mess, free Disaster Legal Services may be able to help clean it up.

The toll-free number is 800-662-7407.

Callers with disaster-related legal issues, who are unable to afford a lawyer, may call between 9 a.m.
and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to request assistance.  Callers should ask for Disaster Legal Services.

Help may include issues with landlord/tenant problems, legal documents lost in the disaster, home repair contracts, medical and property insurance claims, Powers of Attorney, replacement of wills and other documents and preparation of guardianships and conservatorships.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency funds the administrative costs of the program, which is coordinated through the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association.

North Carolina lawyers are providing assistance as a public service to residents of 19 counties under the April 19 disaster declaration. Free help is not available for cases that could produce a fee.

“The Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association welcomes the opportunity to partner with FEMA to provide free legal services to those affected by the tornadoes,” said Michael Wells, Jr., a Winston-Salem lawyer participating in the Disaster Legal Services program.

Wells said several calls he’s received have been about insurance.

The North Carolina counties under the disaster declaration are Bertie, Bladen, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hertford, Hoke, Johnston, Lee, Onslow, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrell, Wake and Wilson.

For more information about this disaster, go to www.nccrimecontrol.org and click on the red “April Tornadoes” tab. More information is also available at www.fema.gov.