Hurricane relief for storm-battered Puerto Rico comes in many forms. Thanks to some New York lawyers, legal help is on the way. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez reports.
While securing food and shelter for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico is the priority, lawyers in the city are preparing for what comes next.
"There is so much out there that's available to the Puerto Rican community in this disaster that's it's so important that we need to get out there and who has that ability to help? It's the lawyers," said Carmen Pacheco, president of the Puerto Rican Bar Association.
Pacheco convened an emergency meeting this week as a first step toward sending a swat team of lawyers into Puerto Rico to assist storm victims.
She said the victims will need legal help navigating everything from insurance payouts and unemployment benefits to, most importantly, applications for FEMA assistance.
"The most important of the process is for us to really do the filing of the paperwork. To get really comfortable with the FEMA procedures," said Hector De Jesus, a member of the Puerto Rican Bar Association.
The group said it's advocating for FEMA application deadlines to be extended because of all the destruction.
Members also want stateside Puerto Ricans to get the word out to loved ones on the island to document everything.
"Before they start the cleanup, they need to take photographs," Pacheco said. "They need to preserve their evidence to show before and after pictures of what's going on."
These legal minds said they're also prepared to file lawsuits on behalf of those who can't fight for what they justly deserve.
"Puerto Rico is part of the United States and they're entitled to 100 percent federal disaster fund relief just like other states Texas and Florida have received," said Betty Lugo, another member of the Puerto Rican Bar Association. "And we will fight for that as attorneys and as individuals."
Members of the Puerto Rican Bar Association in New York said they will help and fight in two languages.