While Hurricane Florence landed in North Carolina in 2018, legal needs caused by the storm are ongoing, and the Pro Bono Resource Center is still here to help.
On September 14, 2018, Hurricane Florence made landfall in the Carolinas. The storm brought winds over ninety miles per hour and over three feet of rain in some locations. With $44 billion in estimated damages and lost output, Florence is one of the ten costliest hurricanes in United States history.
In the wake of this hurricane, more than 639,093 residents eligible for civil legal aid in the thirty-four North Carolina counties designated as disaster areas were suddenly faced with barriers to recovery that required civil legal assistance to overcome. For example, in New Hanover County, residents filed more than 12,000 requests for FEMA assistance that were denied, yet only 95 of those denials were appealed.
In response to this urgent need, the Pro Bono Resource Center coordinated thirty-five pro bono attorneys to provide legal information weekly to hurricane survivors at FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in New Bern and Fayetteville until the end of the year. Pro bono assistance continued as the Resource Center organized and hosted four FEMA Appeal and Reconsideration Clinics in New Bern, Wilmington, Morehead City, and Trenton – through these clinics, in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina and the North Carolina Bar Foundation, among many others, 115 volunteers served 196 clients.
As the immediate legal needs from Hurricane Florence subsided, the Pro Bono Resource Center, with the North Carolina Bar Foundation, convened a Disaster Legal Services Summit, where the community of organizations working on legal assistance for people affected by Hurricane Florence could evaluate past efforts and collaborate on a plan for future disaster response.
Thank you to Donn Young for providing photos from disaster relief clinics.
This project is funded in part from a grant from the North Carolina Community Foundation.