Legal services, counseling and unemployment assistance available for storm survivors

Published 2:59 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Available services for survivors of the Jan. 22-23 storms in Chilton, Jefferson and Perry counties include legal services, crisis counseling and disaster unemployment assistance.

Free or reduced-cost legal services, including legal advice, counseling and representation, may be provided to low-income disaster victims through the Alabama Bar Association’s volunteer attorney program.

The Alabama Bar Association has contact numbers available for survivors of this disaster. The Birmingham Volunteer Lawyers’ number is (205) 250-5198 and is available immediately. Survivors may also get legal assistance by calling (800) 354-6154.

Crisis counselors have met face-to-face with families who lost loved ones during the storms and are ready to assist anyone else with short-term intervention counseling caused or aggravated by the disaster.

Survivors may call the crisis counseling hotline at (800) 639-REBOUND or (800) 985-5990, where professional counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Survivors can also get counseling information online at Survivors can text “TalkWithUs” to 66746, where a response is immediate and invites counseling questions which are answered right away. Spanish-speakers can text Hablanos to 66746. The TTY line for those who are deaf or hard of hearing is (800) 846-8517.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance is also available for workers in Chilton, Jefferson and Perry counties. Anyone who became unemployed as a direct result of the Jan. 22-23 storms may qualify for unemployment assistance through the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations. The assistance may be available for those who were unable to reach their workplace, no longer have a job, or who had a prospective job eliminated because it was located in an affected area. Survivors may file a claim through DIR’s website, or by calling (866) 234-5328.

Also eligible for disaster unemployment assistance are those who became the primary wage-earner or major support of the family because the head of their household died as a result of the storm. Those who cannot work because of an injury incurred during the disaster may also be eligible for assistance.

The deadline for Chilton County residents to file for disaster unemployment assistance is March 5.

Local residents with questions about food assistance should contact the local Alabama Department of Human Resources, at 280-2000.