Public Statement Regarding the Destruction Caused by Hurricane Irma

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Release Date: 
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Public Statement from the National Legal Aid & Defender Association in the Wake of Hurricane Irma 


Hurricane Irma has already left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida. Disaster recovery services are critical for individuals, families and communities who have been victims of storms like Hurricane Irma, with the most vulnerable people being hit particularly hard.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are predicted to present the greatest challenges we have seen in years. Even as the worst of Irma’s damage has been done, flooding concerns continue for Georgia and South Carolina.

When confronted with natural disasters like these, the equal justice community has always, and will continue to come together to support our colleagues on the ground and communities in need, even after storms have subsided. At each turn, hundreds of attorneys have volunteered to support disaster victims with legal disputes and paperwork, while others have donated resources for critically-needed legal services. We have learned many important lessons from Hurricane Katrina, such as that during natural disasters individuals accused of crimes and presumed innocent may languish behind bars for days and even months without access to counsel. We must ensure that these mistakes of the past are not repeated.

As legal aid and public defender programs work to meet the tremendous need for their services, we must support them, as many have also been harmed by these disasters and continue to work amidst the devastation. NLADA stands with our members, friends and neighbors to support them as they work to ensure a swift and equitable recovery for the people and communities impacted by these recent catastrophic events. Our hearts are with those already impacted by the storm, and our thoughts are with those stuck in its path.

In collaboration with Pro Bono Net, the American Bar Association and the Legal Services Corporation, NLADA created the National Disaster Legal Aid Resource Center for people who need legal assistance and for the legal community to provide readily available information about disaster recovery on housing, insurance claims, employment and other vital issues. The site incorporates lessons learned from past experiences and continually improves on procedures during natural disasters, responses to future emergencies and ensures that the inevitable longer-term needs are met.


How You Can Help:


The National Disaster Legal Aid Resource Center is an invaluable resource for individuals looking for ways to get involved and to support relief efforts in the wake of storms like Irma and Harvey.

The Florida Bar Foundation has set up this fund to support civil legal aid in the wake of the storm.

Lawyers permitted to practice in the state of Florida can look here for information from the Florida Bar about volunteering. Florida Free Legal Answers provides Floridians easy, free legal advice and is scaling up in the wake of Irma.

As we learn more about how to support the personal and organizational needs of our colleagues, as well as emerging needs in Florida, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and other impacted communities, we will provide updated information on additional ways to provide support.