Legal Services Corp. awards funds to Iowa Legal Aid for 2020 derecho victims | Local News

WASHINGTON — Legal Services Corporation is awarding $1.4 million to Iowa Legal Aid to support the delivery of legal services to low-income people impacted by the August 2020 derecho.

LSC is also granting ILA an additional $34,577 to reimburse already incurred costs from providing services related to the 2020 derecho.

ILA 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 FY 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.”

ILA will use the funding to enhance its capacity to provide direct representation to derecho survivors, engage more pro bono volunteers and conduct community building and outreach with Iowa’s disaster response groups. The grant will fund additional staff, advertisements in rural areas, new equipment and a mobile intake unit. A holistic case manager will provide support to attorneys and paralegals while connecting clients to vital resources.

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

“Almost two years ago, Iowa suffered one of the worst derechos in our state’s history, causing roughly $11 billion dollars in damage and tragically taking the lives of three Iowans,” said Rep. Randy Feenstra (IA-4). “As our rural communities continue to rebuild, I am grateful to Legal Services Corp. for awarding Iowa Legal Aid two grants in the amount of $1,405,000 and $35,000 to provide legal assistance to Iowans recovering from the devastating impacts of the 2020 derecho.”

“I am pleased to hear that Iowa Legal Aid will receive more than $1.4 million in grant money to help provide legal assistance to Iowans who are struggling to recover from the impacts of the derecho,” said Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-3). “The high wind storm that swept across Iowa was absolutely devastating for so many, and this money will help Iowans with FEMA and insurance claims, consumer protection, and so much more.”

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and US territories.

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