Power outages linger for millions as another icy storm looms

Millions of Texas residents are without power amid frigid temperatures. Now, some must also cope with bursting water pipes – the latest effect of a winter storm that has pummeled much of the U.S.

A toll-free legal assistance hotline is available to people with low incomes affected by the recent winter storm in Texas.

Available at 800-504-7030, the hotline is available in English, Spanish as well as Vietnamese and connects people with legal aid providers, according to a Tuesday news release from the State Bar of Texas. Callers can leave messages on the hotline at any time, and those who qualify for assistance will be matched with Texas lawyers who have volunteered to work for free.

Callers also should be aware that there are limitations to disaster legal services. For example, assistance is not available for cases that will produce a fee, such as those where attorneys are paid part of the settlement by the court. Those cases are referred to a local lawyer referral service.

The hotline can help callers with:

  • Assistance securing government benefits as they are made available.
  • Assistance with life, medical, and property insurance claims.
  • Help with home repair contracts and contractors.
  • Replacement of wills and other important legal documents lost or destroyed in the disaster.
  • Consumer protection issues such as price-gouging and avoiding contractor scams in the rebuilding process.
  • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems.
  • Counseling on landlord-tenant problems.

Additional resources are available online at texaslawhelp.org. Look for a button at the top for Winter Storm Uri. Online winter storm resources also may be found on the State Bar of Texas website at texasbar.com/winterstorm.

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Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached jwilcox@vicad.com or 361-580-6515.

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Jon covers crime, public safety and the courts at the Victoria Advocate. Born in Huntsville, Ala., he grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism at Texas State University.

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