‘They’ve gone through enough’: Retired lawyers partner to offer FEMA application appeals assistance

J.H. Atkins, Harold McKinney, Richard Campbell, Jim Boyd, and Bob McBeath joined forces to help...
J.H. Atkins, Harold McKinney, Richard Campbell, Jim Boyd, and Bob McBeath joined forces to help with FEMA assistance application appeals.(WYMT)
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 6:54 PM EDT
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Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News First at Four

EASTERN KENTUCKY (WYMT) - With families across the region still working to make sense of the devastation left behind by the July flood waters, people from all around are pitching in to try to help them make sense of something else: FEMA assistance applications.

A FEMA appeals help center was set up in the Floyd County Public Library Wednesday, as organizations and retired attorneys joined forces to help address concerns with recent denials.

“We have evolved into more of a community outreach program,” said Dumas Rescue president Tonya Conn. “We do humanitarian and animal and it has been very important to us to see that our friends and our neighbors are getting the assistance that they need.”

Dumas Rescue, the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, Altech Feeds and a group of five retired attorneys set up an appeals resource center to touch base with those who needed access or had questions about their FEMA appeals.

“How strenuous that would probably be and how stressful that would be on families that, you know, some don’t have even access to a laptop,” Conn said. “They’ve lost all their electronics. They’ve lost all their access to the things to even be able to apply.”

The group set up computers at the library, inviting community members to seek help. McKinney and the other attorneys- J.H. Atkins, Jim Boyd, Bob McBeath and Richard Campbell- said they understand the needs present and the disconnect that is often associated with the “bureaucracy” of FEMA disaster paperwork.

“They don’t do that on a daily basis,” said McKinney. “We just thought we could help in some minor way, just to make their life a little easier. They’ve gone through enough.”

From the complicated details to the persistent denials, McKinney said the whole process can be too much, but is worth fighting with the right information.

”They’ve lost everything. Some people have literally lost everything and they’re trying to climb back out of the hole. And it’s just hard to do by yourself,” said McKinney.

He said they hope to offer a little light to those in the dark and plan to return to the area to keep working in the days to come, as needed.