LSC Disaster Task Force Report
In April 2018, LSC’s Board of Directors established LSC’s Disaster Task Force. The focus of the Task Force was to foster and promote better cooperation, coordination, and communication between and among the emergency management community, legal services providers, the private bar, the judiciary, community-based organizations, and the business community to ensure that low-income disaster survivors receive the legal assistance they need. The Disaster Task Force held three in-person meetings and field hearings (in Washington, D.C., Houston, TX, and Miami, FL) between May 2018 and March 2019. The Disaster Task Force’s Recommendations highlight the concrete steps that legal services providers can take to build a systematic, coordinated, and sustainable approach to helping low-income individuals, families, and communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from a disaster. The Task Force’s recommendations focus on relationship-building, training attorneys and volunteers to recognize disaster-related civil legal issues and to represent low-income disaster survivors, as well as enabling legal services providers, courts, individuals, families, and communities to better prepare for disasters. LSC’s follow-up on these recommendations is critical to ensuring that they are implemented in a meaningful way.
The Disaster Task Force recommends that LSC:
- Establish a multi-disciplinary working group to assist in implementing the recommendations.
- Continue to educate the emergency management community about the importance of integrating legal services providers into their work;
- Embrace a leadership role in promoting civil legal aid as a critical component of a community’s disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.
This Report organizes its recommendations by the committee structure the 60-member Task Force established to conduct its work: (1) Relationship-Building and Integration of Legal Services into the Nation’s Emergency Management Infrastructure; (2) Training Pro Bono Lawyers, Other Volunteers, and Legal Services Providers; (3) Continuity of Operations Planning for Legal Services Providers and the Courts; and (4) Preparing Individuals, Families, and Communities for a Disaster.