Congressional Briefing Will Highlight Legal Aid’s Role in Disaster Recovery

LSC to Announce Formation of National Disaster Taskforce
March 9, 2018

WASHINGTON – Two state chief justices and legal aid experts from states recently affected by natural disasters will discuss how legal aid programs funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) assist survivors at a congressional briefing on March 13. The briefing, “Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria: The Role of Legal Aid in Disaster Recovery,” will highlight the importance of legal aid programs to disaster preparedness and recovery.

LSC Board Chair John Levi also will announce a new LSC initiative—a taskforce to improve legal aid disaster relief coordination and effectiveness across the country. Members of the disaster taskforce include LSC grantees, members of LSC’s Leaders Council, emergency management experts, and other stakeholders.

LSC has more than a decade of experience in working with a network of national and local partners to help legal aid programs serve low-income clients when disasters strike. Through a coordinated national infrastructure, LSC grantees provide access to resources and information vital for communities to respond to disasters and emergencies.

After the devastation of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in 2017, legal aid programs mobilized attorneys in the affected areas to provide free legal assistance and direct representation to low-income survivors. Working in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the American Red Cross, the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, state and local bars, as well as other national and local recovery organizations, these programs set up hotlines and staffed disaster recovery centers.

This briefing will explain the important services that legal aid programs provided to hurricane survivors in Texas and Florida. Speakers are: 

Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, Supreme Court of Texas

Chief Justice Jorge Labarga, Supreme Court of Florida

Saundra Brown, Directing Attorney of Disaster Legal Services, Lone Star Legal Aid, headquartered in Houston, Texas

Monica Vigues-Pitan, Executive Director, Legal Services of Greater Miami, serving Miami-Dade and Monroe counties in Florida 

LSC President James J. Sandman will moderate the discussion.

The briefing will take place at 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building, from noon to 1 p.m. EDT. Members of the press are invited to attend. The event will also be livestreamed via Facebook Live. To view it, visit LSC's Facebook page.  Follow #DisasterRelief for live-tweeting of the briefing. 

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.