Free legal assistance to Isaac survivors

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Survivors of Hurricane Isaac who need legal advice may take advantage of free legal counseling via a toll-free hotline (1-800-310-7029), part of the overall disaster response and relief plan.

At the request of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, President Obama signed the major disaster declaration authorizing the release of federal disaster funds and resources for the survivors of the storm.

Through the call center and staff provided by Louisiana Civil Justice Center, as well as volunteer efforts coordinated by the Louisiana State Bar Association and the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, working with FEMA, legal information/advice will be provided to low-income storm survivors who have been financially impacted as a result of Hurricane Isaac.

LCJC operates from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and returns voicemail messages on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Staff will provide resources and assist callers with legal issues, including FEMA disaster assistance, insurance claims, landlord-tenant issues, home-repair contracts, consumer-protection matters. Legal assistance for Spanish-speaking callers can be arranged via a callback appointment.

Hurricane victims contacting the toll-free hotline (1-800-310-7029) should indicate they are seeking legal advice in connection with Hurricane Isaac. Referrals to appropriate local or state agencies will also be provided by the hotline volunteers.

Callers should be aware that there are some limitations on disaster legal services.  For example, assistance is not available for cases that will produce a fee (i.e., those cases where attorneys are paid part of the settlement by the court).  Such cases are referred to a local lawyer referral service. Hotline staff can help you determine whether an issue qualifies for free legal assistance.

Other Federal Assistance Individuals, families and businesses also may be eligible for federal assistance if they live, own a business or work in a parish declared a Major Disaster Area, incur sufficient property damage or loss, and, depending on the type of assistance, do not have the insurance or other resources to meet their needs.

To apply for assistance for individuals and households, Louisiana residents should call the toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (TTY: 1-800-462-7585) and register. Specially trained operators at one of the FEMA's National Processing Service Centers will process applications.

FEMA has declared the following 16 parishes disaster areas: Ascension, Assumption, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne and Washington. Individuals and households in these parishes are eligible for aid.