The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 13, 2012

Derecho unemployment benefits are available


— FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in Beckley, Glen Jean, South Charleston and Summersville will not be open on Sundays effective immediately.

Normal hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Also, the Centers will be closed for one day only on Saturday, Oct. 20.

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People who lost work or earnings because of this past summer’s storms may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA), according to an announcement by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Russell Fry, WorkForce West Virginia Acting Executive Director.

“If you live or work in Fayette, Kanawha, Nicholas or Raleigh counties and have lost your job due to the recent bad weather, you should apply for these federal benefits,” said Tomblin.

Those unable to work because the late June derecho storm affected their employment should contact their local Workforce West Virginia One Stop office or www.workforcewv.org.

The filing deadline for DUA new claims is Oct. 18 and will include benefits for the self-employed — customarily not entitled to unemployment insurance such as farmers, plumbers and electricians.

DUA applicants need to document their earnings with records such as an income tax return, bank statement or business records.

Any WorkForce West Virginia One Stop Office can accept DUA requests, including the Beckley, Charleston and Summersville offices which serve the affected counties.

“Our staff is ready to help anyone who is eligible for these benefits,” said Fry.  “We want to do everything we can to help them get back on their feet both in their homes and workplaces.”

Those eligible for DUA benefits in addition to individuals who lost their jobs as a direct result of the derecho storms could include:

— Those unable to reach their job or self-employment location;

— Those whose work start date was affected by the disaster;

— Those who became the breadwinner or major support for a household because of the death of the head of household due to the disaster

— Those individuals who suffered a disaster related injury.

For more information regarding the DUA benefits go to www.workforcewv.org.

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Survivors of this past summer’s derecho may qualify for free legal help through Legal Aid of West Virginia.

Individuals who need legal advice for storm related losses should call Disaster Legal Services (DLS) at 877-331-4259.

Callers need to identify that they are seeking FEMA legal assistance and report the county in which they reside.

Survivors will be matched with West Virginia attorneys who have volunteered to staff this service.

DLS offers help on how to:

— Get FEMA and other government benefits

— File life, medical and property insurance claims

— Avoid problems when hiring contractors

— Avoid consumer fraud

— Handle mortgage-foreclosure and landlord-tenant problems

— Replace wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the disaster

DLS is a partnership between The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD) and Legal Aid of West Virginia with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) providing the funding.

 Phone lines are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Callers can leave a voice mail after hours or on weekends.