Oil Spill Resources and Claims Fair comes to Biloxi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Oil Spill Resources and Claims Fair comes to Biloxi

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Roberta Avila spent Tuesday afternoon prepping for her last meeting before Thursday's Oil Spill Resources and Claims Fair. As head of the Steps Coalition, a local non-profit, her group has teamed up with more than 30 organizations for the expo.

"We encourage people to file for claims, but we want people to know about all the other supportive services that are in our community," said Avila with the Steps Coalition.

Groups like the Interfaith Disaster Task Force plan to set up a mental wellness room. Taking a culturally sensitive approach, trained workers will address the impact the oil spill is expected to have on people's emotional and mental health.

"They're going to have some assessments or surveys for people to complete to get some idea of how people are doing, what people's needs are," said Avila.

Health screenings and legal help will be available at the fair. Groups like the WIN Job Center and local housing resources will also be on hand.

The centerpiece of the event, according to Avila, is the BP claims process where people can file or follow up on old claims. But, she says the expo will offer another approach to the process.

"I think what's going to be different is that we're creating this atmosphere that's friendly, that's supportive, that's language accessible, culturally accessible. It's going to different than if someone went to the claims office," said Avila. "If they have questions or difficulty filling out applications, we'll have people who will translate in Vietnamese and Spanish, and they'll also be in those meeting rooms with BP."

Translators will be on hand to follow people from table to table to help them through the process. Thursday's expo at the Coast Coliseum Conference Center will also offer a special space for kids while their parents visit the fair. There will also be live music and refreshments during the fair.

The Oil Spill Resources and Claims Fair will be Thursday, July 8th, from 12 noon until 8 p.m. at the Coast Coliseum Conference Center, Conference Hall D in Biloxi.

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