In preparation for the start of the 2019 hurricane season, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (TRLA) is hosting nearly a dozen disaster-preparedness sessions for community members in the flood-prone Coastal Bend, Golden Crescent and Rio Grande Valley regions.
“There are so many legal issues that come up after a disaster,” said Tracy Figueroa, coordinator for TRLA’s Disaster Assistance Group. “For example, some government and privately funded programs require you to have title to your home in order to get home repair assistance after a disaster. Many Hurricane Harvey survivors are struggling to address these legal issues now, and it is disrupting their ability to recover from the disaster. It’s vital that people think about these aspects of disaster preparedness, and take steps now to improve their position.”
The sessions are geared to help people head off or prepare for legal problems that arise after disasters.
According to the Rio Grande Legal Aid, the meetings are funded by a community education grant from the Texas Bar Foundation and will continue through September.
The next scheduled sessions are May 9, Sept. 4, and Sept. 11. More sessions will be scheduled as organizations request them and groups interested in scheduling sessions may contact TRLA.
Sessions will cover tips on how to legally prepare for a disaster before it happens, including the documents and evidence you need to have ready and protected; post-disaster insurance issues, renters’ rights and obligations, and mobile home issues.
TRLA has held disaster preparedness sessions in the Hidalgo County towns of Alamo, Alton, Las Milpas, Penitas, and San Juan since March.
The legal aide team has worked with community organizations and disaster aid groups, including Equal Voice Network, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), Proyecto Azteca, ARISE, the Red Cross, the Mexican American Unity Council (MAUC), Proyecto Juan Diego, BUCKNER, and Victoria Long Term Recovery Group.
“We are grateful to the Texas Bar Foundation for providing the funding to help make this happen.” Figueroa said. “The ongoing legal assistance that TRLA attorneys are providing to disaster survivors has reinforced the importance of this effort.”