Tornado victims can get free legal aid to help with FEMA applications

Victims of the Memorial Day tornadoes can get free legal help over the next month before the Aug. 19 filing deadline.

Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc. and the Legal Aid of Western Ohio Inc. are offering the free legal help to financially eligible individuals seeking FEMA benefits to cover losses from the tornadoes.

FEMA often denies someone if they have insurance, said attorney Robyn Traywick.

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“You need to appeal, appeal, appeal,” Traywick said. “Don’t give up on FEMA.”

The deadline is Aug. 19 for filing FEMA applications. The deadline for appealing a FEMA denial is 60 days after the denial.

Here’s information on the upcoming sessions:

• Shiloh Church UCC, 5300 Philadelphia Drive – Saturday, July 27, August 10, and August 24 from

8 a.m.– 1 p.m.

• Shaw Elementary School in Beavercreek, Sunday, August 4 from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

• Brookville High School, 1 Blue Pride Drive, Brookville, Saturday, August 3 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

• Northridge High School, 2251 Timber Lane, Tuesday, August 13 from 3 p.m.-7 p.m.


Preregister for the clinics if you are seeking representation by an attorney for tornado-related issues. Please call Legal Aid Line at 1-888-534-1432.

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Individuals without appointments will receive information, education, and referrals for tornado-related issues.

If a FEMA appeal is denied, tornado victims have other avenues. The Small Business Administration will often give out disaster relief funds. After Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, most of the financial aid came from the SBA, Traywick said.

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Mary Brickey-Dunson was denied FEMA benefits for damage to her roof. She said ABLE walked her through the process for appealing the FEMA denial and gave her a back up plan in case her appeal is denied.

“I don’t think they should be denying anybody help,” Brickey-Dunson said. “But God will give it to me one way or another.”

Other legal aid

ABLE also has been helping tornado victims with other legal advice.

Sally Elam said she is being scammed by a contractor.

The contractor came out to Elam’s home in the days following the tornadoes and gave her a project estimate but hasn’t responded to her since. Elam said ABLE helped her determine whether the project estimate was legally binding, which it is.

“I am hearing this is happening to a lot of other people and it’s really concerning to me, especially for the elderly population,” Elam said.

And while contractors may be overwhelmed with the amount of work after the tornadoes, Elam said victims are overwhelmed, too.

“I’m lucky that I can still live in my house, but every day I walk in and see the siding and awnings just torn to shreds, it is a reminder,” Elam said.

Tornado victims can call (888) 534-1432 for free legal help anytime.

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