Some Ky. attorneys providing free legal help to flood victims being denied by FEMA

So far FEMA has approved $36 million in assistance for those impacted by the floods, but for those who were denied,
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 5:18 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As many are working to recover and rebuild from devastating floods in eastern Kentucky, some people aren’t getting the financial assistance needed.

So far FEMA has approved $36 million in assistance for those impacted by the floods, but for those who were denied, there’s a group of professionals hoping to get results for those who were initially told no.

“Many of my acquaintances and friends have been through this flooding. It’s devastating, I feel like this is just something we can do as a legal community,” said Joe Childers.

Childers is a civil litigation attorney from Lexington, but more importantly, he’s a heartbroken eastern Kentucky native looking to do his part to help those who lost everything.

“Be persistent. File an appeal, file another application. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Childers said.

More than 9,200 applications have been filed with FEMA for individual assistance. To date, only 4,500 have been approved. Some residents told us they’re being offered very low sums, others said they were quickly denied aid.

Lawyers from around the region are volunteering their time to help flood victims through the appeal process.

“Have a very detailed estimate of your damages. If you have a contractor that will give you that estimate in writing and put it in their letterhead, that’s going to get you through the door with FEMA faster,” Childers said.

Governor Andy Beshear met with FEMA officials Monday morning to discuss fixes to the system. In a press conference, he said now, there will be FEMA officials at local disaster recovery centers with the authority and ability to approve claims directly.

“My goal is to be relentless and pushing for the people of Kentucky. We need this to work, FEMA has got to get it right, it may take more steps,” Childers said.

FEMA has also been contacting applicants who were denied directly to let them know why. The governor urges those individuals to answer the call. They’ll also be rolling out a new texting option for those who prefer alerts right to their mobile devices.

Childers said some people have felt rushed to try and get that assistance, which meant they may have missed or forgotten documents. It’s important to get everything in order to help that process go smoother, and while they know many people don’t have access to internet or computers, if you are able to submit documents and forms online, that can also speed things up.

You do have 60 days to appeal and it must be done in writing. Those facing a FEMA denial or who might need some additional assistance should contact the hotline at 1-800-621-3362 for free legal aid. That number is monitored Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30.

Copyright 2022 WKYT. All rights reserved.