Oklahoma Attorneys Answer the Call of Storm Victims
Jarrod Houston Beckstrom
Oklahoma Bar Association
1901 N. Lincoln Blvd.
P.O. Box 53036 | Oklahoma City, OK 73152
(405) 416-7084 | firstname.lastname@example.org
OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 7, 2013) – Oklahoma Bar Association attorneys have been helping storm victims navigate the legal complexities of recovery since record storms tore through 19 Oklahoma counties in May.
The OBA enacted its disaster relief program in late May and since, over 600 storm victims have been paired with 265 volunteer attorneys to receive free disaster-related legal advice. On Aug. 1, due to diminishing requests for assistance, the intake hotline and online request form were closed.
ANSWERING THE CALL
OBA President Jim Stuart of Shawnee commended the Oklahoma legal community, saying, “I’m incredibly proud of the OBA attorneys who have volunteered their unique skill set and experience to help disaster victims in the wake of these storms.”
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma Inc. and OBA volunteers were boots on the ground at relief centers in Moore, El Reno, Shawnee, Little Axe and Midwest City, allowing storm victims to receive immediate legal advisement. Attorneys staffed the centers from May 23 until the last center closed on July 3.
ATTORNEYS ON THEIR SIDE
With the record-breaking storms came tremendous destruction,so many of the issues OBA volunteers assisted with involved property loss,mortgages and landlord/tenant issues.
For example, one family was hit twice with tragedy. First, a man’s father died and two days later, his recently deceased father’s home was destroyed in the Moore tornado. The family found out that insurance had lapsed and taxes were owed on the home. Understandably, there were many legal questions that needed answers. An OBA attorney is helping that family through that process.
In another case, a Cleveland County man’s rented apartment was hit by the May 20 tornado. Just days after the storm, he received a termination of lease notice from his landlord informing him he would be required to remove all of his belongings from the apartment and had less than a week to do so. With the help of an OBA volunteer attorney, he was informed of his rights as a tenant, resolved his issues and was able to find new housing.
Some victims simply don’t want to be taken advantage of. One woman spoke with a volunteer attorney to ensure she was treated fairly by contractors and insurance adjustors.
HISTORY OF HELPING
Providing legal assistance to disaster victims is, unfortunately, nothing new to the OBA. In the last 18 years, the OBA has enacted its disaster response plan seven times to assist victims of various natural disasters as well as the 1995 terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
SOME SERVICES STILL AVAILABLE TO STORM VICTIMS
Intake for free legal advice ended Aug. 1 due to a lack of demand. There are resources and services available on the OBA website to help victims find an attorney. While such legal counsel might not be free, many of the legal issues that arise from a disaster are very complex and challenging, so contacting an attorney is highly advisable.
ABOUT THE OBA
The 17,200-member Oklahoma Bar Association, headquartered in Oklahoma City, was created by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to advance the administration of justice and to foster and maintain learning, integrity, competence, public service and high standards of conduct among Oklahoma's legal community.