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GiVE Back: V&E Pro Bono Blog

  • 01
  • September
  • 2017

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Post-Harvey Pro Bono Legal Aid

The materials referenced in this post were not developed by Vinson & Elkins, and we are not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the documents. They are intended for educational and informational purposes only and may not be applicable to individual circumstances; nor do they constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice or services. For legal advice with respect to your specific circumstances, you should consult with your own attorney.

 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, lawyers in Houston—and around the country—are mobilizing to help victims. As stated in a recent Wall Street Journal article, those affected by the storm will likely face legal issues for years to come.

Guided by the direction of Lone Star Legal Aid and Houston Volunteer Lawyers, V&E began sending attorneys to Houston shelters almost immediately after Harvey had passed. Shifts were created and assigned rather quickly, thanks in large part to the planning that had previously been done to assist at Houston airports during the “travel ban” in January, proving that a well-organized and documented plan can be repurposed for other crisis situations.  

In the days that followed, V&E and other Houston-area lawyers encountered a myriad of questions from evacuees, such as applying for federal aid, repairing their property, dealing with immigration issues—and more. Below is a list of compiled resources that address some of the most frequently heard questions by our attorneys.
 

What can FEMA do for me?

If you’ve been affected by a disaster, FEMA may be able to help you with expenses for temporary housing, medical needs, transportation and more, even if you have insurance.

 

How do I register with FEMA?

  • online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov
  • by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
  • speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY: 1-800-462-7585
  • use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS): 1-800-621-3362

The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

 

How do I work with my insurance company?

If you’ve experienced a loss of property, such as your home or car, follow these steps to contact your insurance company.  

 

How can I avoid home repair scams?

These steps will help guide you through a safe and fair home repair contract, and how to report consumer fraud.  

 

How do I replace important documents that were lost or damaged?

Know who to contact if you’ve lost or damaged any of these items in the disaster:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Food stamps or EBT card
  • Debit card, credit card or checks
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage license

 

If my family is displaced, can my child(ren) still go to school?

Children have a legal right to go to school in Texas after a disaster. Here’s how to enroll them if you’ve been displaced from your home.  

 

Can I apply for a small business loan?

Even if you don’t have to own a business, the Small Business Administration has low-interest loans for disaster victims.  

 

I am an undocumented immigrant. Can I get help?

Know what assistance is available for U.S. citizens, qualified aliens and undocumented immigrants.

 

The work is far from over. Lawyers, no matter where they live, can offer assistance.

What organizations in Texas can I contact to help?

 

What if I don’t live in Houston or Texas?

The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to permit out of state attorneys to practice law in Texas, to participate in Harvey recovery. To volunteer, visit the ABA Free Legal Answers.

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