May 19, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC—With the surging Mississippi River devastating numerous communities, civil legal assistance programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) are participating in disaster response meetings and making preparations to help low-income individuals and families affected by flooding.
The LSC-funded programs are focusing on helping low-income flood victims who request assistance for legal problems arising from unemployment, loss of property and other matters. The LSC programs are coordinating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, American Red Cross and state and local bar associations. Information about hotlines, shelters, recovery centers and response efforts is available at www.disasterlegalaid.org.
“LSC programs stand ready to help those affected by the flooding and the recent deadly tornadoes that devastated communities in the South and Southeast,” LSC President James J. Sandman said. “We know that the legal problems faced by people can sometimes continue for months after a disaster, and LSC programs provide a framework for pro bono attorneys and other volunteers to undertake coordinated efforts to meet the legal needs of low-income clients.”
Louisiana’s legal services programs, pro bono projects and the Louisiana State Bar Association Access to Justice Committee have drawn up plans for responding to potential flooding in Morgan City, Houma and other areas of the state. LSC-funded programs in the state have substantial experience in disaster-related issues, in part because of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav and the recent Gulf oil drilling disaster.
Thousands of homes and businesses in the Memphis area were flooded, and Memphis Area Legal Services, in conjunction with the Memphis Bar Association Access to Justice Committee, will help victims as floodwaters recede. Memphis Area Legal Services has prepared information for volunteer lawyers staffing a free legal clinic, and the Tennessee Bar Association held a webinar to help pro bono lawyers respond to flood-related matters. Memphis Area Legal Services also has conducted a seminar for staff and pro bono attorneys on how to assist flood victims, and a video of the seminar is being distributed at shelters and posted on websites.
LSC is the nation’s single-largest funder of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. Established by Congress in 1974, LSC operates as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation to provide for equal access to justice and to ensure the provision of high-quality legal assistance to low-income Americans.