Free disaster legal assistance efforts are being offered for people who were affected by the recent floods in Arkansas, according to a news release.


Free legal assistance is being offered by the Arkansas Bar and the Young Lawyers’ Section, in conjunction with FEMA, the Arkansas Emergency Management Agency, the American Bar Association, Center for Arkansas Legal Services, Legal Aid of Arkansas and Arkansas Access to Justice.


FEMA announced that federal disaster assistance is available to Arkansas to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms and flooding beginning on May 21 and continuing.


The President’s action makes federal funding available to flood victims in Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Jefferson, Perry, Pulaski, Sebastian, and Yell counties. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster, according to the news release.


Federal funding is also available to the state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures (Categories A and B), including direct federal assistance under the Public Assistance program, in Conway, Crawford, Faulkner, Jefferson, Perry, Pulaski, Sebastian, and Yell counties.


Federal funding is also available to the state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures (Category B), including limited federal assistance under the Public Assistance program, in Arkansas, Chicot, Desha, Franklin, Johnson, Lincoln, Logan, and Pope counties, according to the release.


Local legal aid providers and pro bono attorneys will be available to help with the following: assistance securing FEMA and other government benefits available to disaster victims; 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 to guard against price-gouging and avoiding contractor scams in the rebuilding process; counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems; and counseling on landlord-tenant problems. Details: 1-800-950-5817.


Beware of Fraud


Both FEMA and the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office urge Arkansans to be aware of the risk of fraud and common scams in the wake of severe weather.


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 at 866-720-5721. Complaints may also be made to local law enforcement.


For legal assistance, flood victims may call the toll-free number 1-800-950-5817.