Free Legal Assistance Available for Central and Eastern Kentucky Flooding Survivors in 31 Counties
UPDATE: June 16, 2021 - FEMA has extended the deadline for severe-storm survivors to register for help. The deadline to apply is now Thursday, July 8, 2021.
Robert Johns, Executive Director AppalReD Legal Aid- firstname.lastname@example.org
John D. Meyers, Executive Director Kentucky Bar Association- email@example.com
Linda Anderson Stanley, Disaster Legal Services Director American Bar Association YLD- L.A.Stanleydls@gmail.com
Jack Phillips, District 16 Representative American Bar Association YLD- firstname.lastname@example.org
May 28, 2021 — A toll-free legal assistance hotline is available to those affected by the severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides that struck Anderson, Boyd, Breathitt, Clark, Clay, Estill, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Greenup, Jackson, Jessamine, Johnson, Knott, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Warren, and Woodford Counties between February 27 and March 14, 2021. This service is a partnership between AppalReD Legal Aid, the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA), the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other local organizations.
Low-income individuals facing legal issues as a result of these severe storms and flooding may call 1-844-478-0099. Callers should identify that they are seeking storm or flooding related legal assistance, should identify the county in which they are located, and be prepared to provide a phone number where they can be reached by an attorney.
Examples of legal assistance available include:
• Assistance securing government benefits as they are made available to disaster survivors;
• Assistance with life, medical, and property insurance claims;
• Help with home repair contracts and contractors;
• Replacement of wills and other important legal documents lost or destroyed in the disaster;
• Consumer protection issues such as price-gouging and avoiding contractor scams in the rebuilding process;
• Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems; and
• Counseling on landlord-tenant problems.
Major Disaster Declaration 4595-DR-KY
On April 23, 2021, FEMA announced a major disaster declaration in Breathitt, Clay, Estill, Floyd, Johnson, Lee, Magoffin, Martin, and Powell Counties, making federal funding available to individuals and businesses owners who sustained damage as a result of the severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides that struck this region between February 27 and March 14, 2021.
On May 28, 2021, FEMA extended this disaster declaration to Anderson, Boyd, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Greenup, Jackson, Jessamine, Knott, Laurel, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, Lincoln, Madison, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Warren, and Woodford Counties.
People who sustained property damage as a result of these severe storms and flooding are urged to register with FEMA, as they may be eligible for federal and state disaster assistance. People can register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or via smartphone or Web-enabled device at m.fema.gov. Applicants may also call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY) from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (ET) seven days a week.
Applicants should be prepared to provide basic information about themselves, any insurance coverage, and any other information to help substantiate their loss. The deadline to register with FEMA is Wednesday, June 23, 2021.
Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are also available for eligible applicants. SBA helps businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or damaged personal property. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries.
For more information, individuals may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing email@example.com, or visiting SBA’s website at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.
Beware of Fraud
Both FEMA and the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office warn residents of the risk of fraud and common scams in the wake of the severe weather. Common post-disaster fraud practices include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations, and fake offers of state or federal aid. Residents are urged to ask questions and to require identification when someone claims to represent a government agency.
Survivors should also keep in mind that state and federal workers never ask for or accept money, and always carry identification badges with a photograph. There is no fee required to apply for or to receive disaster assistance from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), or the state. Additionally, no state or federal government disaster assistance agency will call to ask for your financial account information. Unless you place a call to the agency yourself, you should not provide personal information over the phone as it can lead to identity theft.
Those who suspect fraud can call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline toll free at 866-720-5721. Complaints may also be made to local law enforcement agencies.
Attorneys who would like to provide legal help to flooding survivors can view volunteer opportunities at https://www.ardfky.org/node/14/.
Barratry or Improper Solicitation
The Kentucky Bar Association reminds the public that in many cases it is unethical in Kentucky for a lawyer or someone representing a lawyer to contact a person for purposes of legal representation if the person has not first requested the call or personal visit. The contact is not unethical if the attorney is not seeking payment or has a preexisting professional-client or family relationship with the person being contacted.
If you witness something you believe to be improper solicitation, or barratry, please get the name and phone number of the person making contact and report it to your local law enforcement authority or the Kentucky Bar Association Office of Bar Counsel at 502-564-3795 or at https://www.kybar.org/page/attdis.