Nonprofit helps New Mexico fire victims with disaster relief applications

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico Legal Aid is now offering legal services to wildfire victims.

There is a new helpline designed to connect fire victims to legal representatives. The goal is to address the variety of legal needs that arise as the result of a disaster.

Many New Mexicans are in limbo right now, trying to figure out their next step. The wildfires have forced many from their homes, destroyed properties, and impacted work and the necessities of life.

“What we’re expecting is that people are going to have difficulty with FEMA applications because there’s a tremendous amount of information that has to go into each one, especially in regards to ownership of property,” said Lewis G. Creekmore, executive director of New Mexico Legal Aid. 

New Mexico Legal Aid is one of many nonprofits helping serve victims in Colfax, Lincoln, Mora, San Miguel and Valencia counties.

“Disasters have ripple effects, it’s not just the rain, it’s not just the fire, it’s not just the building that disappeared, but it’s the lingering effects on the people,” said Creekmore. 

Creekmore said they can help with FEMA applications, move forward with any appeals and tackle any denied disaster unemployment benefits.

“It’s going to continue until the great majority of the legal needs are met, the fires are still burning, there are going to continue to be victims,”Creekmore said.

There are a few deadlines to keep in mind, applications for disaster unemployment benefits are due by Wednesday and FEMA applications are due July 5. 

The hotline for evacuees is (888) 985-5141. The hotline is staffed Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. MST.