Western Kentucky legal experts share tips they learned through tornado recovery process
As victims of catastrophic flooding in eastern Kentucky continue recovery efforts, western Kentuckians are offering advice nearly nine months after deadly tornadoes ripped through that region.
Katina Miner is Advocacy Director at Kentucky Legal Aid, which helped people navigate and apply for resources after the December tornadoes.
Miner said everyone should apply for FEMA assistance. She added that people should not be discouraged by a denial.
“I'm not even going to sugarcoat that, you're likely to be denied. And I've, you know, I've heard from other people that I've talked to that FEMA sees this as a conversation starter. So if you get a denial, it's not as if that that's the be all, end all,” said Miner.
Miner said FEMA requires a lot of paperwork, but it’s worth it to get the assistance needed.
In addition to FEMA, the legal aid expert said people should apply for low interest SBA loans as that application opens the door to other forms of assistance they could qualify for.
Miner added that there are programs to replace lost wages due to a disaster, as well as SNAP benefits to replace food that was destroyed in the event.
Kristy Vick-Stratton is the Lead Disaster Response Attorney at Kentucky Legal Aid, a role created after the December tornadoes.
Vick-Stratton said something they experienced during that recovery was poor repair work and even scam repairmen. The attorney said it’s important to do your homework.
“Make sure that someone is licensed and insured, do not pay them upfront and document everything that you can. Make sure you keep receipts. Don't take anyone at their word, which is really hard to say sometimes. But you want to get everything in writing,” said Vick-Stratton.
Vick-Stratton said to be on the lookout for people impersonating FEMA officials and be careful about who you give personally identifying information to. FEMA does require things like date of birth and a social security number for assistance, but Vick-Stratton said they will never ask for cash or an application fee.
You can find more advice and information from AppalReD Legal Aid and Kentucky Legal Aid here.