Dolly Victims Can Turn to Legal Aid During Recovery

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August 8, 2008           

Contact: Cynthia Martinez, Communications Director

WESLACO, Texas – Rio Grande Valley residents recovering from Hurricane Dolly can turn to Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA), the leading provider of legal aid in Texas, for help with their legal problems and questions as they struggle to rebuild their lives.

TRLA staff have been visiting local shelters throughout the Rio Grande Valley since recovery efforts began and are launching an extensive outreach campaign that will include radio advertisements and setting up information centers throughout the area.

According to TRLA attorney Tracy Figueroa, “There are numerous ways in which disaster victims can be taken advantage of and denied their rights in the aftermath of the hurricane.  It is important that people know that they do not have to be victimized twice.  TRLA can help them navigate through their legal issues so that they can receive the support needed to rebuild their lives.”

Disaster victims encounter a variety of legal issues including denials of insurance claims, problems with a landlord or mortgage company, and price gouging.  Disaster victims may also need legal assistance as they try to obtain disaster-related unemployment, public benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid or Social Security, or benefits from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“This is going to be a difficult recovery for many families,” added Figueroa.  “TRLA is here to help people get the legal support they need.”

Individuals who sustained damage as a result of the Hurricane may be eligible for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Individuals can apply for FEMA benefits by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362) or visiting a local Disaster Recovery Center.

But some people in the Rio Grande Valley may be reluctant to turn to FEMA for their benefits.  “Some people might be afraid to turn to the government for help because of the citizenship status of someone in their family,” added Figueroa.  “If that’s the case, they should contact us for advice.  We can help them know their legal rights and which organizations they can turn to for help without being afraid.”

Individuals who need legal services related to the hurricane are encouraged to contact the TRLA Disaster Assistance hotline at 1-866-757-1570 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Fridays. 

Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality legal assistance and related educational services.


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