As a result of the recent severe storms and flooding in West Virginia, the WV State Bar is working diligently to provide disaster legal information to individuals who have been affected.
- Tax Relief for Victims of Severe Storms, Flooding, Landslides and Mudslides in West Virginia
- FEMA: 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362) or disasterassistance.gov.
– FEMA Fact Packet
– Flood Assistance Flyer (Emergency Services by County)
- Bureau for Child Support Enforcement
– Child Support and Unemployed F.A.Q.
- WV Attorney General Consumer Protection Division
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
WV Office of Insurance Commissioner
Web link: http://www.wvinsurance.gov
National Flood Insurance Program
If you have flood insurance, the first step is to call your flood insurance agent or company with your policy number and contact information. An adjuster will probably be assigned to you within a few days, and he or she will visit with you.
Gather any photos or receipts you had before the flooding, and take photos of water or damaged property in the building. Work with the adjuster on a proof of loss form to calculate the damage for an accurate estimate. That must be filed within 60 days of the flood. Policyholders insured under NFIP can call the FEMA helpline seven days a week with questions about their flood insurance: 803-621-3362.
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
Web link: http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program
Contact the WV Attorney Generals Office
Avoiding scam artists
- Avoid and consider reporting anyone who asks for personal information, such as Social Security numbers, or demands money for a FEMA inspection or to speed up the process.
- Be careful when hiring contractors for repairs.
- Be sure to check their credentials, such as state licenses and local business licenses and permits. If you plan to use a contractor, get photos of the person and his or her driver’s license, vehicle and tag number. Be upfront about it.
- Make sure to have a signed contract.
Beware of Scams: Tips to Avoid Fraud in Aftermath of Disaster
- Only do business with licensed or bonded contractors or builders;
- Consult the Better Business Bureau to ensure you are working with a trustworthy business. link;
- Contact an insurance adjuster to get an estimate of the damage and repair costs;
- Be wary of contractors who solicit services door-to-door, especially those that are unfamiliar or from out of town;
- Know that under WV law, the door-to-door seller must advise you orally and in writing that you have a right to cancel the sale within three days. Clerk her for more information. Link;
- Get the salesperson’s license plate number;
- Don’t ruse into signing a contract, and never pay up-front for promised work;
- Secure the terms of any warranty work in writing; and
- Ask for references, or rely on recommendations from friends or relatives who have had experience with honest contractors.
- Although WV price gouging law prohibits vendors from illegally raising prices to reap exorbitant profits during a disaster, it does allow retailers to pass along wholesale priced increases to customers. Thus, in some cases, increased prices may not necessarily signal illegal priced gouging.
Under state law, once the governor issues a declaration, vendors are prohibited from charging unconscionable pricing for goods, services, materials, merchandise, supplies, equipment, resources, or other articles of commerce, and includes without limitation, food, water, ice, chemicals, petroleum products, and lumber essential for consumption or use as a direct result of a declared state of emergency. This prohibition remains in effect until the declaration expires or is terminated.
Contact information: 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362)
Web link: http://www.disasterassistance.gov
People who suffered losses or damage from the recent flooding may be eligible for FEMA disaster aid, even if they don’t have flood insurance.
To apply for FEMA disaster assistance, call 803-621-3362 or visit disasterassistance.gov and have the following available:
- Social Security number – an a spouse’s, if necessary
- Private insurance information, if available
- Address and ZIP code of the damaged property
- An address where you can get mail
- Directions to the damage property
- Daytime telephone number, and one where FEMA can leave a message
- Director deposit information – if you want disaster assistance funds sent directly to your bank.
After you register, you will get a call from an inspector. The inspector, a private contractor who will wear an official FEMA badge, will visit the property at a scheduled time for an inspection that should take 10 to 20 minutes.
Contact local law enforcement if you have concerns with the legitimacy of a FEMA inspector.
Inspectors will never charge for an inspection, though they will ask for identification and proof of occupancy.
You will receive a letter from FEMA with a decision within 10 days of the inspector’s visit, then a check or an electronic funds transfer if you are eligible for assistance. You might also receive a low-interest disaster loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration. You don’t have to accept the loan, but you must complete the application and return it to the SBA to remain eligible for other types of federal assistance.
Residents who have been ruled ineligible by FEMA for disaster assistance should not give up right away. An ineligible ruling might simply mean FEMA doesn’t have all the necessary information to make a decision. But – and this is important – they want you to keep trying. The applicant still might need to return insurance information, provide information to prove occupancy or ownership of the damaged property, fill out paperwork or return the SBA loan application.
Applicants also can appeal the decision in writing within 60 days of the date they received an ineligibility letter. More information is available at www.fema.gov/help-after-disaster. The FEMA disaster assistance help line at 803-621-3362 is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
U.S. Small Business Administration
West Virginia residents affected by flooding might be eligible for SBA disaster assistance, which includes low-interest loans for physical damages or economic injuries for businesses and private nonprofits.
The maximum loan amount for each type is $2 million, and interest rates are as low as 4 percent for businesses and 2.625 percent for private nonprofits.
The SBA’s customer service line is 1-800-659-2955. Loan applications can be downloaded at www.sba.gov/disaster.
- VolunteerWV.org sign up to volunteer yourself, groups, et. Donations may be mailed to the United Methodist Foundation PO Box 3811 Charleston WV 25338; WV VOAD in the memo line.
- Redcross Disaster Assistance – 855-224-2490; Safe and Well link: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
- Salvation Army – 304.343.4548 salvationarmywv.org.
- United Way – unitedwaygreenbrier.org 304-647-3783 304-340-3500 http://www.unitedwaycwv.org.
- Local churches – WV Council of Churches 343-344-3141
- Veterans organizations – http://www.veterans.wv.gov/offices -facilities/Pages/Outreach-Services.aspx 304-558-3661