Lawyers in Nashville are teaming up to provide assistance to those affected by tornadoes that struck the area Tuesday.
The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands has partnered with the Tennessee Bar Association, Nashville Bar Association and the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services to host clinics to help residents with tasks like filing insurance claims, finding contractors and avoiding scams.
DarKenya Waller, executive director of the Legal Aid Society, said that once survivors have met their basic needs of safety and shelter, questions of how to begin putting things back together arise. Unfortunately, she says, people in disaster situations often find themselves in peril because they don’t understand the process or ask the right questions.
“With the daunting task of navigating the legal landscape and the administrative landscape that go with disasters like this, you need advice and you need someone who’s been there before or seen it before to help guide you through it.”
The Legal Aid Society’s clinics are available to all those impacted by the tornadoes.
- Wednesday, March 4, 4-6 p.m.: Downtown Nashville Public Library, 615 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37219
- Thursday, March 5, 4:30-6:30 p.m.: St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 908 Murfreesboro Road, Franklin, TN 37064
- Tuesday, March 10, 4:30-6:30 p.m.: Gallatin Civic Center, 210 Albert Gallatin Avenue, Gallatin, TN 37066
- Thursday, March 12, 3-5 p.m.: Greenhouse Ministries, 309 South Spring Street, Murfreesboro, TN 37130
In addition to the clinics, the Legal Aid Society plans to release a guide for navigating disaster relief later this week.
The Division of Consumer Affairs, the Better Business Bureau and the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance will host a Consumer Disaster Recovery Tips event on March 5 at Centennial Sportsplex. Major insurance carriers will be in attendance for those who want to make in-person claims. TDCI will also have a presence at the Wilson County EMA Center and the Putnam County 911 Center.
Both Waller and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency advise residents to document everything as they begin the recovery process — take photos of damage and save receipts related to rebuilding efforts. And they recommend that residents begin filing insurance claims as soon as possible.
“The more you can document, the better off you are as you begin to try and make claims, or even if you have to take it further into any sort of litigation,” Waller said.
For those who lost important documents in the damage, Waller says the Legal Aid Society will assist clients in requesting the paperwork they need. Additionally, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security is deploying two mobile units to issue duplicate licenses, free of charge, to those directly impacted by the tornado.
Beyond legal advice, Conexion Americas and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition are providing support to new Americans who are navigating disaster relief, and Navarre Corp is offering transport services to wheelchair bound individuals.
SNAP recipients in need of replacement benefits will be able to make requests beginning Thursday, March 5, at the Goodwill Career Solutions Center, Honey Alexander Center and Nashville State Community College, East Davidson.