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For Immediate Release:
July 12, 2019
Baton Rouge, LA—As hurricane season begins, Tropical Storm Barry threatens to bring myriad civil legal problems for Louisiana residents, from accessing critical disaster assistance to securing temporary housing to handling insurance claims. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services will be there to provide advice and assistance but residents should act now to ensure that they have accessible documents and pictures of them and everything in their home before a natural disaster arrives. A few simple actions can help to avoid legal problems later.
First, residents should take photographs of everything, including their home, belongings, pets, and important documents. This will help with insurance and FEMA claims. Then, residents should upload the photographs to a secure location and email them to themselves and put the camera in a watertight container.
Preparation for disasters is key.
Residents should review the title to their property to make sure that ownership is clear and unencumbered before disasters happen, and to try to remedy any title issues that might exist before they become a stumbling block to recovery in the aftermath.
Residents should place their and their family members’ most important records and documents in a safe place. Keep them in a large sealable plastic bag or other watertight container and keep them nearby – possibly in their vehicle, along with a to-go bag with essentials that they would need if they had to quickly evacuate. Residents should be sure to make copies of these documents and store them in a safe secondary location, such as a safe deposit box.
What documents should be gathered? Items include:
Account numbers for credit card, checking, and savings accounts
Bank and utility records
Bills that will be needed to pay, like credit cards or utility bills
Deeds and rental agreements
Divorce and custody decrees
Insurance, proof of (e.g. homeowners, renters, flood, earthquake, auto, life, health, disability, long-term care; have at least the policy number and insurance company contact information for each type of coverage)
Medical records, including copies or photographs of medical prescriptions
Military discharge records
Passports, immigration paperwork such as green cards, work authorization, or naturalization papers
Pet records (medical and vaccination records for pets along with current photos and ID chip numbers in case of separation)
Powers of attorney including medical powers of attorney
Social Security card
Tax returns (First two pages of previous year’s federal and state tax returns)
Vehicle title and registration and proof of insurance
Wills and estate planning documents
Residents should start with the most important and most difficult items and property to replace and visit http://bit.ly/HelpfulDisasterResources or contact Southeast Louisiana Legal Services at (225) 448-0331 for more information.
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) fights for fairness in the justice system. We provide free legal services to low-income people across 22 parishes in Southeast Louisiana. We work every day to protect domestic violence victims from abuse, stand for the rights of abused and neglected children, preserve housing for hard-working families, end homelessness for people with disabilities and veterans, protect elderly consumers, remove barriers to medical care, improve access to employment and education for vulnerable people, and so much more.