Help coming for those still struggling after Ike

February 10, 2010 3:49:01 PM PST
It's been nearly a year and a half since Hurricane Ike devastated our area and while many have picked up the pieces, others are still left dealing with bad contractors or insurance companies that still have not paid out claims. For those left wondering what to do now, a helping hand is coming in the form of free legal help.

That free help comes thanks to a grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Council. It is giving $150,000 to the Center for Consumer Law at the University of Houston to help those with legal problems still unresolved since the storm.

The blue roofs and patched shingles are a testament to the troubles left behind by Hurricane Ike.

"My neighbor over here, he lost his roof and he was waiting a long period of time," said homeowner Victor Castillo. "They asked him questions, like what happened when they know it was because of Ike, you know?"

Castillo says it is not hard to find homes still damaged in this southeast Houston neighborhood. Finding real help is a problem.

"A lot of people just don't understand their rights," said University of Houston law student Christopher McKeon.

Thanks to the grant to the University of Houston's Center for Consumer Law, McKeon and others will be able to provide specific help to Ike victims.

"Not only do they not have the money to afford to fix a situation themselves, they don't even have the money in some cases to even talk to a lawyer," said McKeon.

The grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Council will be used to bring extra staff to the Texas Consumer Complaint Center to help hurricane victims dealing with insurance companies who have yet to pay out claims or even tracking down contractors who took the money and ran.

"We have a staff of attorneys and a lot of law students and some paralegals and between now and September 30, we are going to do everything we can to help," said University of Houston law professor Richard Alderman.

The law school has until September 30 to use the funds and judging by the number of people in need, it shouldn't be hard to use the entire amount.

"If you are not sure of your legal rights, give us a call, go on the web site and let someone explain them," said Alderman.

If you need help, you can contact the TCCC at or call them at 713-743-2168 or toll free at 1-877-839-8422.