New Website Aims to Enhance Disaster Response, Boost Preparedness
The Legal Aid Disaster Resource Center (LADRC.org), a national website helping legal aid and other service organizations more effectively meet the civil legal needs of disaster survivors, has officially launched.
The Legal Services Corporation’s (LSC) Disaster Task Force worked for more than a year studying how legal aid organizations can better help low-income disaster survivors recover. A key task force recommendation was for the legal services community “to create an online ‘one-stop’ resource for disaster training materials and expertise.” For the past several months, LSC and its partners have been busy designing and building LADRC.org.
When a disaster strikes, legal services organizations work to set up recovery hotlines, staff FEMA disaster recovery centers and provide much needed short-term and long-term civil legal assistance. Low-income survivors are typically the hardest hit by disasters and frequently face pressing legal needs. They may require help obtaining copies of important documents such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and Social Security cards to apply for or restore benefits and support. Low-income and other vulnerable people who need housing after an emergency are more susceptible to scams and price-gouging. Disasters also increase need in the core areas of practice for legal aid, such as public benefits, domestic violence prevention, consumer law and fraud prevention.
The website’s goal is to provide trainings on best practices and resources for pro bono and legal aid attorneys and the communities they serve. It will also encourage relationship building to improve disaster preparedness and response. LADRC.org was designed for use by attorneys, volunteers and disaster survivors.
“LSC is excited to announce the launch of the Legal Aid Disaster Resource Center,” said LSC President Ronald S. Flagg. “This new website provides practical tools in one place to assist attorneys, volunteers and disaster survivors to respond to and recover from disasters around the country.”
The website features a nationwide knowledge bank of experienced disaster legal aid attorneys and emergency management professionals. All the resources on LADRC.org have gone through a rigorous expert review process. They include both deep dives into different legal topics related to disasters for attorneys and quick guides that provide basic, must-know information on disaster preparedness for general audiences.
A recurring theme in the task force's report is the need for organizations involved in disaster relief and recovery to coordinate better. LADRC.org offers tips on building these relationships and lists the relevant organizations and community partners in each state and territory to encourage organizations to forge these vital connections.
LADRC.org is the product of a collaboration among several partners, including Latham & Watkins LLP, Bent Ear Solution LLC, Lone Star Legal Aid, Reingold Inc. and experts from the fields of law and emergency management. Members of Latham & Watkins summer associate program helped to draft the legal and quick guides. The firm also served as pro bono counsel to the task force and provided financial support.
“With its comprehensive Legal Aid Disaster Resource Center, LSC continues its longstanding tradition of helping those who need it most in communities across the United States. We are proud to have contributed to this vital project, and to support LSC’s mission,” said Latham & Watkins partner Robert Malionek, who leads the Latham team providing pro bono counsel to the task force.
LSC and its partners will work on building content and ensuring that it is current and easily accessible. In the near term, LADRC.org will include federal Indian and tribal law resources and Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning for courts.