Disaster Legal Aid Help for Civilians

Some PA residents and businesses, like me, dodged a bullet when hurricane Irene passed through.  But others are not as fortunate.  I have been getting lots of calls on the PA Bar Association Hot Line from lawyers whose offices were flooded, or worse, mudded, resulting in a loss of client files and other valuable papers.  Many people lost everything of a personal nature, including their homes, and many businesses are struggling to survive.  No, I will not take this opportunity to provide any lectures about disaster prevention steps that could have been taken.  I will reserve that for another time.  Right now I just want to get the word out about what resources are available to help.

The PA Bar Association has teamed up with PA Law Help to create a virtual law clinic.  The Allegheny County Bar Foundation has created a detailed model resource for Volunteer Attorneys.  In addition, local Bars have set up 7 sites for disaster relief around the state, and are asking their members to mobilize to provide support to the community.  The 7 centers are:

Wyoming County Tunkannock Area Administration 41 Philadelphia Avenue Tunkhannock, PA 18657

 Bradford County Towanda Fire Department 101 Elm St., Towanda PA 18848

 Luzerne County Community College 1334 South Prospect Street Nanticoke, PA 18634

 Dauphin County Harrisburg East Mall 3501 Paxton Street Harrisburg, PA 17111

 Lycoming County 740 Fairfield Road Montoursville, PA 17754

 Columbia County Agricultural Center 702 Sawmill Road Bloomsburg, PA 17815

 Sullivan County at Loyal sock State Forest District Office 6735 RT. 220 Laportte, PA 18626

These 7 sites are opening today, Wednesday, September 14, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and starting tomorrow, on Thursday, September 15th, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Disaster officials recommend that individuals register before visiting a DRC so if there are any questions about the application process they can be answered face to face. Individuals may visit any DRC regardless of where they live or work.

Register for assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov; the screens will prompt you through the registration process.

 One can also apply by web-enabled mobile devices at m.fema.gov, or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly. For those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. Operators will assist individuals seven days a week between the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Reach out to those around you.  That includes your vendors, employees, neighbors and friends.  Make sure they know of these resources.

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