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Austin Lawyers Volunteer Legal Services to Wildfire Victims in Bastrop

by: Chaille Jolink

Fri Sep 23, 2011 at 02:15 PM CDT

The Austin Bar Association as well as local area lawmakers have set up shop in Bastrop to help its citizens with their current legal needs.  

Their headquarters have been at the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center 1602 Hill Street (at the old High School) since last Wednesday and there is an attorney and a paralegal on site every day from 9am-6pm.

The big issue for most homeowners is waiting for insurance claims to be filed, until then the volunteer attorneys are there to help with filing claims and anything and everything that comes in between.  

"The legal issues related to a disaster are extremely varied, but people in Central Texas are dealing with a lot of them right now..." said former President of Texas Young Lawyer Association and former Justice of the Peace candidate Karin Crump.

Everything from proving ownership of a lost pet, to getting a tenant's rent back for the month of September, to closing on a house Sunday to have it burnt to the ground on Monday (yes that is a real case), are among the countless concerns the citizens of Bastrop have encountered.

Including the volunteer attorneys from across the area, Democratic State Senator Kirk Watson from Austin and his staff were on the ground and in Bastrop within a day of the disaster.  He localized Health and Human Services at the shelter before FEMA even came into town so people could get information and let them know what services are available to them, such as food stamps.

The big question looming in a lot of people's minds is if the Senate in Congress will vote down another disaster relief bill next week.

"If this bill doesn't pass FEMA might be out of here in a matter of days," Crump said.

FEMA provides temporary monetary assistance to low income residents as well as offer low interest loans to people who don't qualify as low income.

Please see the Austin Bar Association's website for further details on how to get help and what resources are available to those in need, as well as to volunteer and get involved.  Also, call your congressman and tell them to pass the disaster relief bill!

Big Thanks to Karin Crump and David Courreges for helping me with this story!  


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