OAK GROVE, Mo. - While they can't replace family heirlooms or photo albums filled with life's memories, the Missouri Bar Association's attorneys can help tornado victims replace all of the legal documents that may have been lost or destroyed in last week's storms.
"The word Esquire means 'at service,'" said Kansas City-area attorney Pat Starke. "We take that to heart. We truly believe we have an obligation to help those in distress and those who are less fortunate."
"When a disaster strikes, most people just need a place to go where they can get guidance on finding out what they need to do," he explained. "The readily apparent part is to pick up your stuff, but what happens then? Having a resource available for people to just answer questions or just to give them guidance on where they need to go to get answers."
Like assistance with medical and property insurance claims, counseling on landlord-tenant issues and help with home repair contracts.
"We are all in this together, and we all bring certain skills to the table that we can offer to people who need them in desperate moments," Starke said.
The Missouri Bar activates its Disaster Recovery Legal Assistance Hotline following events or natural disasters in order to aid Missouri communities in need.
Those seeking legal assistance should call 1(800) 829-4128 - a special toll-free number to receive requests for free legal help.
Volunteer lawyers will help storm survivors with the following:
Assistance with medical and property insurance claims
Counseling on landlord-tenant and real estate property and mortgage questions
Help with home repair contracts and contractors
Replacement of wills and other important legal documents lost or destroyed in the disaster
Consumer protections such as price-gouging and avoiding scams in the rebuilding process
All calls are screened and then referred to volunteer lawyers who agree to offer a telephone consultation, providing free legal advice for disaster-related problems. Callers who need representation in court or who have issues requiring fee-generating services will be referred to the appropriate services.