A toll-free disaster hotline is available to survivors of the recent Iowa floods who may need legal assistance.

The hotline allows callers to request the assistance of a lawyer to aid in disaster-related matters, and is a partnership between Legal Aid of Iowa, The Iowa State Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division and the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division.

Flood victims facing legal issues may call 833-885-9876 toll-free, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday to request assistance. When connected to the hotline voicemail, callers should leave their name, phone number, brief details of the assistance needed and in which county they are located. Individuals who qualify for assistance will be matched with Iowa lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal assistance. The types of legal assistance available include:

  • Assistance with securing FEMA and other government benefits available to disaster survivors;
  • Assistance with life, medical and property insurance claims;
  • Help with home repair contracts and contractors;
  • Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the disaster;
  • Assistance in consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures; Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems; and
  • Counseling on landlord-tenant problems.

Disaster Declaration

On March 23, 2019, a Major Disaster Declaration was issued for the Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona and Woodbury counties in Iowa, making federal funding available to individuals and business owners in those counties.  

To register with FEMA and apply for assistance, visit DisasterAssistance.gov. Applicants may also call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY) seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. central time.  Applicants should be prepared to provide basic information about themselves (i.e., current telephone number, address where mail can be received, social security number, insurance coverage and any other information to help substantiate the loss).

Background Information

When the President declares a major disaster, FEMA, in cooperation with the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, establishes a toll-free number for disaster survivors to request legal assistance. Funding for the toll-free line comes from FEMA under the authority of Section 415 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 100-707). The American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division in turn collaborates with state bar associations and other legal organizations to recruit volunteers in affected areas to handle survivors’ cases.

Victims should be aware that there are limitations on disaster legal services. For example, assistance is not available for cases that will produce a fee (i.e., those cases where attorneys are paid part of the settlement by a court). Such cases are referred to a local lawyer referral service.

Partner Organizations

Iowa State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (https://www.iowabar.org/page/YLDHome) The Young Lawyers Division of The Iowa State Bar Association is comprised of lawyers under 36 years of age, or who have been practicing law for 10 years or less. The Iowa State Bar Association YLD promotes professional values and involvement in the Bar Association and provides opportunities for professional development and service to the community.

Legal Aid of Iowa (https://www.iowalegalaid.org/) Legal Aid of Iowa serves counties across the state as the largest non-profit law firm, and the only civil legal aid provider offering free services across the state. Iowa Legal Aid offices are located in Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City, Mason City, Ottumwa, Sioux City and Waterloo.

American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (https://www.americanbar.org/groups/young_lawyers/disaster_legal_services/) The ABA YLD, the largest national organization of young lawyers, provides leadership in serving the public and the profession, and promotes excellence and fulfillment in the practice of law. Its parent organization, the ABA, is the national voice of the legal profession and the largest voluntary professional membership group in the world.

Federal Emergency Management Agency – FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror. Through an agreement with the American Bar Association, FEMA underwrites the cost of operating toll-free legal assistance lines for survivors in areas designated as federal disaster sites.

National Disaster Legal Aid Online (disasterlegalaid.org) NDLA is a collaborative effort of Lone Star Legal Aid, the American Bar Association, the Legal Services Corporation, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and Pro Bono Net.

United Policyholders – (www.uphelp.org) UP is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) consumer advocacy group that specializes in helping disaster survivors with insurance claim issues. UP also trains case managers and legal aid lawyers to assist clients with insurance and disaster recovery matters.


Lisa Gavin

Iowa Legal Aid          

(319) 364-6108

Dan Wade      

Disaster Legal Services Director

American Bar Association

(616) 820-2089          

Torey Cuellar

Secretary, Young Lawyers Division

Iowa State Bar Association

Kyle Fry

District Representative

ABA Young Lawyers Division

(563) 265-3573

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