• 32°

Tips to prepare for disasters

American Bar Association
WASHINGTON – Sunday’s tornado in Joplin, Mo., destroyed some thousands of homes and businesses.
Here are legal tips so that families and businesses can prepare now to help cope after a disaster.
Important papers should be kept safe, accessible and scanned electronically if at all possible. Think beyond birth certificates and Social Security cards, said Ernest B. Abbott of FEMA Law Associates in Washington, D.C., which specializes in emergency management and disaster law.
Wills, divorce and marriage certificates, driver’s licenses, plus documents that pertain to child custody, child support and finance and insurance are equally important.
Try to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance as quickly as possible and keep track of disaster requests, said Abbot, who also used to be a lawyer for the agency. This is especially important for those who live with roommates or have a multiple-family household. FEMA provides one grant per home devastated by natural disaster – regardless of the size or dynamic of the household. Frequently, when these types of households are split up after a disaster there could be complications when applying for FEMA grants.
“With roommates, if one of them signs up for disaster assistance, that renders the other one ineligible because they already provided a payment to one of the people in the household,” Abbott said.
If you are living with roommates, make sure to have a plan in place should your multiple-family home be permanently split and you are both in need of FEMA assistance.
Documents that establish residency should be a high priority.
“If there are immigration issues, people want to make sure that their evidence of legal status in the country is not going to get lost if their house gets flooded,” Abbott said.
These documents are essential in establishing your identity, property ownership and family status to authorities if problems arise.
If you have legal guardianship or are the power of attorney for a family member plan to have the necessary documents ready. It is useful in cases where there is a medical emergency and you have authorization to assist a family member in the midst of a crisis.
For example, if your mother becomes ill and you lose the power of attorney due to a disaster, Abbot said that it becomes more difficult to show that you are authorized to make decisions for her in an emergency.
For small businesses, it is important to make sure you have a plan that will allow you to find key information and restore operations as quickly as possible after a disaster.
“It is astonishing how few businesses that are closed by a natural disaster reopen,” Abbott said. “Part of it is because they are not set up to find their customers records, and for law firms you are talking about protection of client records and making sure you can make your court deadlines.”
In the event of a disaster, the Small Business Administration provides low-interest loans to businesses to help them recover from damages.
Lastly, be ready to assist your fellow neighbor if you can.
“In a big event you are not going to have government getting to you for at least 72 hours,” Abbott said. “Once you have your situation stabilized, anything you can do to help your neighbor who may need assistance reduces the incredible demand for government resources.”
Need more help?
National Disaster Legal Aid (www.disasterlegalservices.org) will help victims of disasters find valuable information and assistance to speed recovery from hurricanes, fires, floods or other disasters. The site is sponsored by the American Bar Association, Legal Services Corporation, National Legal Aid & Defender Association and Pro Bono Net.

Comments

Comments closed.

Education

School board talks competency-based learning, receives new offer on Faith Elementary

Business

Chamber of Commerce warns buyers about used tractor company with Cleveland address

Local

American Legion Post plans cocktail sip

Local

Harold B. Jarrett Post to host blood drive

Coronavirus

17 new COVID-19 cases, one new death reported

Education

School meals expect a smooth transition for students

Nation/World

Fully vaccinated people can gather without masks, CDC says

Local

Lane, ramp closures scheduled for I-85 in Salisbury

Crime

Blotter: March 8

Ask Us

Ask Us: How can homebound seniors be vaccinated?

Local

Political Notebook: Interim health director to talk COVID-19 at county Democrats breakfast

Local

‘Their names liveth forevermore:’ Officials dedicate Fire Station No. 6 to fallen firefighters Monroe, Isler

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking into Salisbury High, getting juvenile to help

Nation/World

With virus aid in sight, Democrats debate filibuster changes

Local

City officials differ on how, what information should be released regarding viral K-9 officer video

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls are 3A champions

Lifestyle

High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Local

With jury trials set to resume, impact of COVID-19 on process looms

Legion baseball

Book explores life of Pfeiffer baseball coach Joe Ferebee

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to receive update on competency-based education

Business

Biz Roundup: Kannapolis expects to see economic, housing growth continue in 2021

Business

A fixture of downtown Salisbury’s shopping scene, Caniche celebrates 15th anniversary this month

Local

Slate of new officers during local GOP convention; Rev. Jenkins becomes new chair

Landis

Landis officials narrow search for new manager to five candidates; expect decision within a month