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Legal Aid of NC gets more than $4 million to help natural disaster victims | Crime News

Special to The News Herald

WASHINGTON — The Legal Services Corporation recently announced it is awarding $4.35 million to Legal Aid of North Carolina to support the delivery of legal services to low-income people impacted by Hurricane Isaias, Tropical Storm Eta, Tropical Storm Fred and other severe weather events the state faced in 2020 and 2021.

LANC is one of 19 organizations around the country receiving grants for natural disasters faced in 2020 and 2021. Congress included $40 million for LSC in a $28.6 billion emergency supplemental appropriation attached to the September 2021 Continuing Resolution to fund the government in fiscal year 2022.

Survivors of natural disasters often require immediate legal assistance to file for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance and insurance benefits and to deal with related evictions, unemployment and document replacement. Legal challenges can haunt survivors for years. Cases involving FEMA appeals, bankruptcy, public housing and domestic violence will arise, and disaster victims can be vulnerable to fraud or scams.

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“Low-income people who confront civil legal issues in the wake of natural disasters face an uphill battle, and they shouldn’t have to go it alone,” said LSC President Ronald S. Flagg. “We are grateful that Congress recognizes the need for legal assistance in these recovering communities and provided this funding that will help our neighbors repair and stay in their homes, obtain key identification documents, apply for benefits and so much more.”

LANC will use this grant to grow its disaster relief program, creating two teams to serve the eastern and western regions of North Carolina. Each team will include a supervising attorney, three staff attorneys and two paralegals. The grant will also fund four additional full-time positions that will contribute to the success of the disaster relief project.

A primary focus of LANC’s legal work will be building resilience by solving property ownership issues. In addition to handling cases, LANC staff will focus on community education and outreach — not just to community members, but also to community partners, charitable organizations, and recovery programs.

Members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation voiced their support for Legal Aid of North Carolina’s work to help disaster survivors.

“People hit with natural disasters often suffer devastating losses and lack the ability to afford the legal assistance they need to recover,” said Rep. Kathy Manning (NC-6). “Legal Aid North Carolina helps more than 25,000 people each year by educating them about their rights, offering legal advice, and representing clients in disputes. I’m pleased to announce this $4,350,000 grant will help Legal Aid North Carolina assist additional North Carolinians who have been impacted by recent natural disasters.”

Other representatives echoed that sentiment.

“The aftermath of a disaster can leave survivors navigating a series of complex processes when filing insurance claims, Replacing lost documents, or applying for FEMA assistance. Access to legal assistance is a critical, but often overlooked, aspect of disaster recovery,” said Rep. David Price (NC-4). “I am pleased that the Legal Services Corporation is awarding this grant of $4.35 million to Legal Aid of North Carolina, which will be used to fund essential legal assistance for North Carolinians recovering from the impact of Hurricane Isaias, Tropical Storm Eta and Tropical Storm Fred .”

Rep. Deborah Ross (NC-2) called the help LANC provides as indispensable.

“As extreme weather worsens, this grant will ensure the organization can better support those who are disproportionately burdened by the negative effects of climate change across North Carolina,” Ross said. “From helping disaster survivors recover legal documents to assisting individuals with insurance claims, I know Legal Aid of North Carolina will continue offering vital support with this funding. I thank the Legal Services Corporation for recognizing their essential work.”

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