Extreme flooding has devastated parts of Nebraska as heavy rains have mixed with melting snow. Multitudes of people have been ordered to evacuate their home and town. A third of the residents in Norfolk, a hospital and nursing home in Genoa, and residents along the Platte River from Schuyler to Ashland have been ordered to evacuate. In Plattsmouth, a water emergency was declared and residents were told to restrict water usage due to rising floodwaters from the Missouri River. Many roads and highways in Nebraska are closed and bridges/dams are falling. Gov. Pete Ricketts issued an Emergency Declaration on Thursday.
As individuals and communities respond to this emergency and start the long recovery, it is very important to already be aware of many common legal issues that may arise during or after a disaster.
Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Disaster Relief Project offers free legal assistance on legal issues to victims of state-declared disasters, through a network of volunteer lawyers across Nebraska.
These legal problems may include:
- Insurance Issues including submitting claims, avoiding public adjuster fraud, negotiating insurance settlements, and filing an appeal.
- Government Benefits including applying for benefits and/or filing an appeal for denial of benefits, benefit award disagreement, or overpayment notices.
- Housing (renters) including identifying your rights as a renter of a damaged unit, facilitating communication with your landlord, negotiating early termination of a lease, resolving issues with renter’s insurance claims, and recovering personal items from damaged rental units.
- Housing (owners) including negotiating payments, understanding your options in real estate contracts, and obtaining disaster assistance.
- Contractor Fraud Issues including hiring a contractor and avoiding fraud, reviewing work contracts/estimates, obtaining proper work permits for repairs, passing city inspection, and recognizing and preventing predatory lending.
- Document Recovery including replacing lost documents (driver’s licenses, SS cards, EBT cards, etc.) and replacing immigration documents.
Victims may also get free legal information on these issues at our website, disaster.legalaidofnebraska.org.
If you are in need of legal assistance in regards to the current flooding, you can apply online by going to http://www.LawHelpNE.org, or by calling the Disaster Relief Hotline at 1-844-268-5627.
If you are an attorney and want to volunteer to help disaster survivors, please apply here.
About the Disaster Relief Project
The Disaster Relief Project has developed a network of volunteer attorneys across the state who will offer free legal assistance to victims of state-declared disasters. Our attorneys assist disaster survivors with issues such as filing insurance claims; recovering vital documents (birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.); and many other legal issues you might face as the result of a disaster. We also host disaster preparedness workshops and presentations for the general public and provide ongoing training and webinars for volunteer attorneys.
About Legal Aid of Nebraska
Legal Aid of Nebraska was established in 1963 and is the only statewide non-profit civil legal aid provider in Nebraska, providing free, high quality services to low-income Nebraskans in all 93 counties. Legal Aid’s mission is “to promote justice, dignity, hope and self-sufficiency through quality civil legal aid for those who have nowhere else to turn.” Legal Aid’s administrative offices are in Omaha, Nebraska.