Hurricane Harvey Recovery Resources
If you would like to donate money to Hurricane Harvey disaster relief, click here.
For Harvey-related disaster resources for attorneys, click here.
HOW TO APPLY FOR FEDERAL ASSISTANCE
Recovery specialists from the state, FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and other agencies will be at the centers to provide assistance information and to help anyone who needs guidance in filing an application.
To assist people and businesses in the recovery process, the State of Texas and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have opened Disaster Recovery Centers in several counties. The centers offer in-person support to individuals and businesses who are included in the federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent floods. Disaster survivors can visit any of the centers for assistance.
To locate a Disaster Recovery Center near you, click here.
Disaster Recovery Centers are accessible to people with disabilities and have assistive technology for people with hearing and vision loss. Video Remote Interpreting is available and in-person sign language is available by request.
If possible, people should register with FEMA before visiting a recovery center. Eligible residents may register for assistance the following ways:
Online by filling out an application here.
Via the FEMA app, available for Apple and Android mobile devices. To download visit: fema.gov/mobile-app.
There are instructions on how to file your claim here.
Know your FEMA Rights: Read this special publication by Reed Smith LLP and the Texas Young Lawyers Association to understand your FEMA rights.
The Small Business Administration offers low-interest, long-term disaster loans to small businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters to repair or replace uninsured/underinsured disaster damaged property. To learn more, visit the SBA’s Hurricane Harvey Recovery web page.
The Texas Department of Insurance has created a special web page of helpful tips and resources for
individuals affected by Hurricane Harvey.
This presentation provides an overview on filing flood insurance claims.
Other tips on filing insurance claims can be found here.
VIDEO: Learn more about filing insurance claims for damage related to Hurricane Harvey
Also see this guide: A Legal Self-Help Guide for Tenants Affected by Natural Disaster
The Texas Workforce Commission accepted applications for Disaster Unemployment Assistance in several counties as a result of severe weather due to Hurricane Harvey. For more information, including whether you qualify, visit ui.texasworkforce.org or call an unemployment tele-center toll-free at 800-939-6631 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
The National Employment Law Project created this fact sheet: Disaster Unemployment Assistance: How Workers Can Access the Program After Hurricane Harvey
You can learn more about employment during natural disasters through this guide created by the Texas Young Lawyers Association.
The Internal Revenue Service is providing help to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Special tax relief and assistance is available to taxpayers in the Presidential Disaster Areas. For more information, see the IRS’ Help for Victims of Harvey web page.
The Texas Immigrant Rights Hotline provides information about changing immigration laws and offers referrals to legal services providers and attorneys. The hotline operates 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (except holidays). The number is 1-833-HOU-IMMI.
SCAMS AND PRICE GOUGING
Attorney General Ken Paxton’s Consumer Protection Division offers the following tips to avoid contractor fraud during the clean-up and rebuilding process:
Contact an insurance adjuster to get an estimate of the damage and repair cost.
Don’t sign a check from your insurance company over to a contractor.
Only do business with licensed or bonded contractors or builders. Get multiple estimates.
Be cautious of contractors who solicit services door-to-door, especially those that are unfamiliar or from out of town and try to pressure you into signing a contract on the spot.
Get the salesperson’s license plate number.
Consult the Better Business Bureau to ensure you are working with a trustworthy business.
Ask for referrals from people you trust and for references from contractors.
Get more than one estimate on work, so you know if you’re being overcharged. Don’t be rushed into signing a contract and never pay in full up-front for promised work.
Consider paying by credit card to avail yourself of additional protections.
Get everything in writing, including the terms of any warranty, and keep a copy of all documents.
Additional information to help Hurricane Harvey victims protect against disaster-related scams is available on the attorney general’s website. Consumers can report suspicious or fraudulent activity by filing a complaint online.
Learn more about home repair scams here.
BARRATRY OR IMPROPER SOLICITATION BY AN ATTORNEY
In many cases it is a crime in Texas for a lawyer or someone representing a lawyer to contact a person for purposes of legal representation if the person has not first requested the call or personal visit. The contact is not illegal if the attorney is not seeking payment or has a preexisting professional-client or family relationship with the person being contacted. If you witness something you believe to be improper solicitation, or barratry, please get the name and phone number of the person making contact and report it to your local law enforcement authority or the State Bar Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office Toll Free at 866-224-5999.