Topic: Disaster Relief

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Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Disaster Relief Project helps promote the longevity and professionalism of local long-term recovery work. Legal Aid attorneys assist groups with 501(c)(3) non-profit incorporation, draft of legal documents, and provide general guidance as the groups seek to navigate the disaster relief ecosystem. Our goal is to allow the groups to focus on what they do best: helping the community recover. 

If you are a long-term recovery or community group and would like to learn if we can assist you, call the Legal Aid helpline at 866-219-5262. 

Additional resources

Category Name Organization
Disaster Relief How to Start a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization
in North Carolina
NC Center for Nonprofits
Disaster Relief Legal Compliance Checklist for North Carolina Nonprofits NC Center for Nonprofits
Disaster Relief Toolkit for Building Organizational Resilience NC Center for Nonprofits


Topic: Disaster Relief

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Legal Aid of North Carolina is helping those recovering from the catastrophic flooding that occurred in August 2021 through free disaster recovery legal services and clinics.  

Legal Aid will host clinics in October to assist those affected by Tropical Storm Fred. Storm survivors interested in Legal Aid’s services should call 866-219-5262, extension 2657 to learn more about how Legal Aid may be able to help and schedule an appointment for an upcoming clinic. 

Legal Aid may be able to help with accessing assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration, or the Office of State Budget & Management. Storm survivors may face fraudulent contractors and suppliers, tax issues, home ownership/heir property questions, and the need for wills and advanced directives. Legal Aid can help with this and more. 

In June, the Legal Services Corporation announced that it would award $4.35 million to Legal Aid to support the delivery of legal services to low-income people impacted by Tropical Storm Fred, Hurricane Isaias, Tropical Storm Eta, and other severe weather events the state faced in 2020 and 2021. The new grant funds will be used to continue to provide disaster legal services to multiple areas of the state, including Western North Carolina.  

Those interested in Legal Aid’s disaster recovery services are encouraged to attend an upcoming event. Call 866-219-5262, extension 2657 to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are preferred. 

The events scheduled in October include: 

Sunday, October 16 from 1-5 p.m. 

Cruso Community Center 

13186 Cruso Rd. 

Canton, NC 28716 

Monday, October 17 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

Fines Creek Library 

190 Fines Creek Rd.

Clyde, NC 28721 

Tuesday, October 18 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

Transylvania County Library

212 S. Gaston St. 

Brevard, NC 28712 

Wednesday, October 19 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 

Cruso United Methodist Church 

11653 Cruso Rd. 

Canton, NC 28716  



Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Legal Aid’s Disaster Relief Project provides legal assistance and education to survivors of natural disasters in North Carolina and supports community economic development and long-term recovery in disaster-impacted communities. Learn more at Follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and YouTube

Media Contact 

Hannah Brown, Legal Aid of North Carolina, 704-526-9449, 

Topic: Disaster Relief

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Taking the time to plan ahead can go a long way in helping with disaster recovery. Legal Aid’s Disaster Relief Project recommends following guidance from organizations and government agencies like the American Red Cross, FEMA and NC Emergency Management to prepare for and stay safe during a natural disaster.   

While Legal Aid’s Disaster Relief Project’s main focus is helping North Carolinians through the recovery process after a natural disaster, our experience with disaster recovery has shown us the importance of preparing ahead of time. We’re sharing our own guide to getting ready for disasters on this page. 

What to do before a natural disaster

Make a disaster kit and make a plan

  • Your disaster kit should include non-perishable food, water, medicine and first aid supplies, batteries and flashlights, and anything else you’d need to take care of your family for a few days 
  • Make a plan for what your family will do if disaster strikes: Where will you evacuate? Where will you get your information?  
  • For more on disaster kits and plans, visit preparedness web pages through the American Red Cross and the Legal Aid Disaster Resource Center.

Plan your estate and clear title to your land  

  • Wills, deeds, and powers of attorney are all legal documents that help provide certainty for you and your heirs if a disaster strikes and you end up in an extended recovery process. Legal Aid may be able to help you prepare these documents. More information can be found in the resource section. 
  • If you already have these documents, make sure to review them and update them if necessary, so that your current copies reflect your wishes. 
  • If you own land or think you do, it is important to make sure your title to the land is clear. Legal Aid may be able to help you check the status of your title and address problems. 

Locate important documents, make copies, and store them in a safe place 

  • Having easy access to important documents after a disaster is crucial for accessing necessities, like prescription medications, and applying for disaster aid. 
  • If possible, make copies of important documents and keep them in a waterproof and fireproof location. 
  • Helpful documents to have include:
    • Birth certificate  
    • License, passport, or other form of Identification 
    • Social Security Card 
    • Deed 
    • Certificate of Title (for automobile vehicles and manufactured homes) 
    • Mortgage Statement 
    • Insurance policies (home owners insurance, flood insurance, health insurance, life insurance, etc)  
    • Tax returns  
    • Court judgments  
    • Power of Attorney and/or Healthcare Power of Attorney  
    • Last Will and Testament and/or Living Will  

Get property or renter’s insurance, and know what your insurance policy covers 

  • Property insurance or renter’s insurance can reimburse you for damage to your home and belongings. 
  • It is important to understand your current insurance and whether you need to adjust your policy before a disaster. A video about property insurance is included in the resources on this page. 
  • If you have questions or concerns about your insurance policy, or if your insurance company denies you coverage, Legal Aid may be able to help. Call the helpline number to learn more about our services and eligibility.

What to do after a disaster 

Take pictures of any damage to your property 

  • Having photographs and a written list of damage you have experienced can help you get help later 

Contact state and federal agencies for aid 

  • FEMA and other organizations may be able to help with immediate needs, like money for short-term housing or repairs.

Contact Legal Aid, if needed, during recovery. We can help with issues including: 

  • Applying for disaster recovery funds and appealing denials of state or federal aid 
  • Homeowner and renters housing rights
  • Contractor fraud 
  • And more

Download our resource:

Additional resources

Category Name Organization
Disaster Preparedness How To Prepare for Emergencies Red Cross
Disaster Preparedness Disaster Preparedness Document Checklist Legal Services Corporation
Disaster Preparedness NC Emergency Management North Carolina Emergency Management Division
Disaster Relief Property ownership, heir property, and estate planning Legal Aid of North Carolina
Disaster Relief Property Insurance & Natural Disasters: SHOW ME THE MONEY! (or not) Legal Aid of North Carolina

Topic: Disaster Relief

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To try to meet immediate needs following a disaster, FEMA provides disaster assistance as fast as possible to the survivors of the natural disaster. Later, however, as FEMA reviews cases, they sometimes determine that people received an incorrect amount of money or that they were not eligible to receive money in the first place. For instance, FEMA may provide money to cover a home repair, but, ultimately, insurance covered the same expense. Recoupment occurs when FEMA takes action to recollect money they earlier provided to a person for disaster relief. Individuals will be notified of this through a Notice of Debt Letter that will come from FEMA.

If you receive a Notice of Debt letter, Legal Aid can discuss options about how to proceed and may be able to help you file an appeal with FEMA. We encourage survivors or Florence to contact Legal Aid’s helpline at 866-219-5262 to learn if you qualify for Legal Aid’s services. 

Additional Resources:

FEMA Recoupment: What it means when FEMA asks for disaster relief money back

Accessing recovery funds: Duplication of Benefits and FEMA Recoupment

Legal Aid NC flyer about recoupment

FEMA Recoupment

Topic: Disaster Relief

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​Visit the Disaster Relief section of our website for help and free legal education.

About the Project

Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Disaster Relief Project provides legal assistance and education to survivors of natural disasters in North Carolina and supports community economic development and equitable long-term recovery and resiliency in disaster-impacted communities.  

The Disaster Relief Project’s services include: 

  • Providing disaster survivors with information about their rights following a natural disaster
  • Advocating for clients when they are applying for recovery fund assistance and appealing decisions, when needed 
  • Standing up for disaster survivors who were victimized by fraudulent contractors or bad-actor landlords 
  • Connecting clients to community resources 
  • Clarifying title and property ownership, including providing wills and advanced directives for those who have been affected by a natural disaster 
  • Supporting local long-term disaster recovery organizations by writing bylaws, providing document templates, and helping groups incorporate as 501(c)(3) nonprofit 
  • Hosting disaster recovery education sessions and legal clinics 

The Disaster Relief Project is funded by a grant from the Legal Services Corporation and the Wells Fargo Foundation.  

Legal Aid NC Helpline

Toll-Free: 1 (866) 219-LANC (5262)

8:30 AM – 4:00 PM, Monday – Friday
5:30 PM – 8:30 PM, Monday & Thursday

Apply for free help with civil (non-criminal) legal issues. Those 60 and older should call the Senior Helpline.


Topic: Disaster Relief

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This press release was published by the Legal Services Corporation. Click here to view the release on their website.

WASHINGTON—The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that it is awarding $4.35 million to Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) 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 FY 2022. 

Survivors of natural disasters often require immediate legal assistance to file for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 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.  

“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 resiliency 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.”

“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.” 

“Legal Aid of North Carolina offers indispensable assistance to North Carolinians, advocating for our most vulnerable during times of hardship,” said Rep. Deborah Ross (NC-2). “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. 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.”