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September 04, 2020

Virtual Disaster Symposium webinars to run through September

CHICAGO, Sept. 4, 2020 — The American Bar Association will continue its five-part Virtual Disaster Symposium throughout September in recognition of National Preparedness Month.

The programs are:

“Responding to a Natural Disaster During a Public Health Emergency – A State and Local Government Perspective” — State and local governments are faced with new challenges in responding to natural disasters during a public health emergency. Experts will offer perspectives on what they are doing to adequately respond to this added complexity of emergency management. Panelists include Brock Long, executive chairman at Hagerty Consulting and former FEMA administrator; Christy Rojas, Emergency Management deputy director and Emergency Coordinating Officer at Volunteer Florida; Kevin Sweeney, commander of Michigan Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division; Vance Taylor, chief, Office of Access and Functional Needs, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services; and Judge Lina Hidalgo, Harris County, Texas. The program will also feature an overview of the FEMA Public Assistance Program, which helps state, local, tribal and territorial governments and some private nonprofit organizations respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies. Sept. 8, 1 p.m. CT

“Coming Together When We Can’t Be Together: How to Help Disaster Survivors During a Public Health Crisis” — After a disaster, recovery centers bring together agencies that can provide assistance to disaster survivors. For the legal community, these centers are an efficient means of finding disaster survivors and an integral part of providing outreach, education and legal services. If a public health emergency were to prevent the formation of recovery centers after a major disaster, how do we find – and help – these survivors? This panel will discuss new ideas and opportunities for helping disaster survivors during an overlapping public health emergency. Speakers include Linda Anderson Stanley, director, Disaster Legal Services, ABA Young Lawyers Division; Linley Boone-Almaguer, disaster assistance attorney, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid; Mary DeWitt-Dia, manager, Disaster Cycle Services, American Red Cross; Free Palmer, chief, Disaster Recovery Centers Unit, DHS/FEMA; Leslie N. Powell-Boudreaux, executive director, Legal Services of North Florida, Inc.; and Elizabeth B. Savage, Disaster Relief Project, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc. Sept. 15, 1 p.m. CT

“Technology and the Courts: Bridging the Gap or Deepening the Divide?” — COVID-19 has forced courts across the country to implement changes to help the justice system continue to function in the time of public health crisis. From issuing marriage licenses remotely to conducting jury trials via Zoom, courts are using technology to keep the wheels of justice moving. But a new way of doing things brings new issues, such as access to technology, access to in-person services, client confidentiality and cybersecurity, to name a few. This panel will discuss what the courtroom looks like during a pandemic, and if an overlapping natural disaster will augment that playbook. Sept. 22, 1 p.m. CT

“Who Pays for Disasters, and Who Recovers Fastest” — Disasters are costly, and even though money spent on mitigation can significantly reduce the money spent on response and recovery, disaster response in the United States seems to focus on the latter, creating a financial strain on the federal government. Many individuals lack adequate insurance, and governments can stand behind immunity laws, leaving a hefty price tag. So, who ultimately pays for disasters? Daniel Aldrich, professor and director of the Security and Resilience Studies Program, Northeastern University in Boston, and Ed Thomas, general counsel, Natural Hazard Mitigation Association, will focus on who pays – and who should pay for natural disasters, as well as examine non-financial elements of recovery. Sept. 29, 1 p.m. CT

The first program, held Sept. 2, was on “Black Lives Matter (In Disasters, Too) – The Intersection of Race and Policy in Disasters.”

The events are free and open to the members of the press. For media credentialing, please contact Priscilla Totten at [email protected].


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