Disaster Relief Resources

  • Para documentos y videos en Español, clic aquí.

When disasters strike Texas, the State Bar serves as a clearinghouse for disaster response resources for the public and attorneys.

The State Bar of Texas toll-free legal hotline — 800-504-7030 — connects low-income people affected by a disaster with legal aid providers in their area who can help with such issues as replacing lost documents, insurance questions, landlord-tenant problems, and consumer protection matters such as price-gouging and avoiding contractor scams in the rebuilding process. The hotline is answered in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Callers can leave a message any time. People who qualify for assistance will be matched with Texas lawyers who can provide free, limited legal help.

If you need a lawyer, contact the State Bar’s Lawyer Referral & Information Service at (800) 252-9690 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

TEXAS LEGAL ANSWERS

Texas Legal Answers — texaslegalanswers.org — is a free online Q&A-style service where individuals can pose specific questions related to disaster civil legal issues and have them answered by volunteer attorneys. Texas Legal Answers is operated by the State Bar of Texas in conjunction with the American Bar Association.

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.

REPLACING LOST DOCUMENTS

This guide created by the Texas Young Lawyers Association is intended to be an abbreviated checklist to help you obtain replacements of some of those necessary documents.
Texas RioGrande Legal Aid also has a helpful guide full of tips on replacing lost documents. It is available here in English and in Spanish .

INSURANCE HELP

This presentation provides an overview on filing flood insurance claims.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid has created a disaster relief guide to homeowners insurance in English and Spanish. The agency also has a guide to property loss claims in English.

VIDEO: Learn more about filing insurance claims for damage related to a disaster.

RENTERS RIGHTS

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid has created this guide to help people understand their rights after the property they were renting was damaged in a disaster. It is also available in Spanish.

The agency also created this guide to lockout threats made by landlords. Here it is in English and in Spanish.

Also see this guide: A Legal Self-Help Guide for Tenants Affected by Natural Disaster

EMPLOYMENT ISSUES

You can learn more about employment during natural disasters through this guide created by the Texas Young Lawyers Association.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid also has disaster relief employment information in English and in Spanish.

The National Employment Law Project also created this fact sheet: Disaster Unemployment Assistance: How Workers Can Access the Program After Hurricane Harvey

EDUCATIONAL ISSUES

The Texas Young Lawyers Association has created this guide for enrolling your child in another school after a natural disaster.

Watch this video to learn more about education rights after a disaster.

IMMIGRANT ASSISTANCE

The Texas Immigrant Rights Hotline provides information about changing immigration laws and offers referrals to legal services providers and attorneys. The toll-free hotline operates 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays (except holidays). The number is 833-HOU-IMMI (468-4664).

SCAMS AND PRICE GOUGING

Tips on avoiding scam contractors after a natural disaster can be found in this Q&A with the assistant dean of student affairs and pro bono programs at Baylor Law School.

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 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.

Read the Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring a Contractor or Other Professional After a Natural Disaster [PDF]. It is also available in Spanish.

HURRICANE HARVEY

For information specific to Hurricane Harvey recovery, please go here.

DISASTER RELIEF CONTACTS

Please review the contacts and resources listed below. They can help you prepare for, survive, and recover from a disaster.

Non-profits

American Red Cross

800-HELP-NOW

Salvation Army

800-SAL-ARMY

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System

855-626-7600

Texas Resources

State of Texas

877-452-9060

Texas Emergency Preparedness Resources

Texas Division of Emergency Management

Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection

800-621-0508

Texas Department of Insurance

800-578-4677

Texas Department of Health and Human Services

800-436-6184

Texas Rural Mediation Services

866-329-3522

2-1-1 Texas Information and Referral Network

877-541-7905

Legal Resources

State Bar of Texas Legal Disaster Hotline

800-504-7030

The State Bar of Texas

800-204-2222

State Bar of Texas Lawyer Referral & Information Services

800-252-9690

Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas, Inc.

866-303-8303

Dallas Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service

214-220-7444

Houston Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service

713-237-9429

San Antonio Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service

210-227-1853

Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas

855-548-8457

Lone Star Legal Aid

800-733-8394

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid

866-757-1570

Texas Legal Services Center

800-622-2520

TexasLawHelp.org

Texas Legal Answers

National Disaster Legal Aid website

Center for Law and the Public's Health

Federal Resources

Flu.gov

800-232-4636

FEMA’s Federal Disaster Assistance Process for Individuals

800-621-FEMA (3362)

Department of Homeland Security

202-282-8000

Government Benefits Search

800-333-4636

Administration for Community Living

202-619-0724

Dept. of Health and Human Services

877-696-6775

Centers for Disease Control

800-CDC-INFO

Small Business Administration

800-659-2955

Weather Safety Tips

For safety tips related to tornadoes, thunderstorms, and flooding, visit the Texas Department of Public Safety Severe Weather Awareness Web page.

Psychological & Counseling Resources

Recovering Emotionally from a Disaster (American Psychological Association)

Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

Phases of Traumatic Stress Reactions in a Disaster

American Red Cross

Salvation Army

Texas Department of State Health Services

Texas Lawyers’ Assistance Program (for Texas lawyers, judges and law students)

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