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State legal aid attorneys share disaster partnering tips

Since Hurricane Florence slammed North Carolina last September, 190 volunteer lawyers have handled 468 disaster-related legal cases for North Carolinians. Meanwhile, Iowa, Texas and Nebraska, among other states, continue to recover from severe storms and historic flooding. 

ABA President Bob Carlson (left) addresses the CLE program “Partnering on Disaster Relief.”

ABA President Bob Carlson (left) addresses the CLE program “Partnering on Disaster Relief.”

Last week, Legal Aid representatives from North Carolina, Iowa, Nebraska and Texas shared their ongoing disaster relief efforts  in a free national CLE called “Partnering on Disaster Relief.” The program highlighted common legal scenarios encountered by natural disaster survivors, discussed how to identify available services for and communicate with survivors and spotlighted the crucial role volunteer attorneys play in responding to disasters.

American Bar Association President Bob Carlson gave the opening remarks at the event, held at Duke University School of Law in Durham, N.C. Representatives from the ABA Disaster Legal Services Program, FEMA and the American Red Cross also took part.

Through the Disaster Legal Services Program, the ABA Young Lawyers Division and FEMA provide immediate temporary legal assistance to disaster survivors at no charge. Working with state bar associations in the affected areas, toll-free hotlines are established for survivors who cannot afford a lawyer. Disaster-related legal issues involve areas such as bankruptcy, contract and contractor problems, landlord/tenant issues, wills and insurance.

The ABA has responded to more than 180 declared disasters in 44 states and four U.S. territories since September 2007. In the last two years, thousands of lawyers have volunteered to provide legal assistance to those affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence and Michael; as well as floods in the Midwest, wildfires in the West and other natural disasters.

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