Nov. 18, 2016 – As hurricane season comes to a close, students learned about flood insurance, how to deal with FEMA, and what survivors of natural disasters need to do to prevent fraud during a recent lunch presentation at the University of Houston Law Center.
The "FEMA Bootcamp" was hosted by the Law Center's clinical program in partnership with Lone Star Legal Aid.
Martin Mayo of Martin L. Mayo & Associates specializes in weather-related insurance claims and lawsuits. He provided an overview on how flood insurance works, how to file a claim, and how claims should be adjusted. He also advised students to take plenty of pictures if they become victims of flood damage.
"Structures are confined to the perimeter walls of the building," Mayo said. "If you have a boat dock or an outside building, a storage shed or fence, it is not covered by flood insurance. If you did things to prevent your house from flooding or if you had debris cleanup in your yard, some money is paid toward those costs as well."
Saundra Brown, managing attorney of Lone Star Legal Aid's Disaster Relief Unit, urged victims to apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, even if they are hesitant to receive assistance from the federal government.
"You have 60 days to file for a federal disaster declaration for FEMA assistance," she said. "The No. 1 thing our volunteers tell people at our outreach points is to apply for FEMA even if people don't want government benefits or if they don't think they need it. It documents damage, and you might not be able to access certain information down the road without FEMA."
The event was part of National Preparedness Month and Pro Bono Week, and offered students registration forms to participate in volunteer work.
"I'm pleased the Law Center has partnered with Lone Star Legal Aid and our legal aid clinic for pro bono week and also for this issue with FEMA," University of Houston Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes said. "Pro-bono work is really significant. In life, many of us are given such incredible skills. It's really important to give opportunities back to our country, our society and our communities."