As a lawyer, you can help your community both before and after a natural disaster strikes. Consider the following: Businesses and individuals need legal assistance for continuity planning, securing title documents, complying with insurance, and a myriad of other reasons. And this is before anything happens.
After a natural disaster strikes, many people face numerous legal issues ranging from insurance disputes and FEMA appeals to landlord-tenant issues and consumer fraud. If you can spare your time and resources, consider joining the National Disaster Legal Aid Advocacy Center, a group that connects advocates and volunteers with communities and individuals impacted by natural disasters.
Though it may seem like a no-brainer, you should actually refrain from donating items such as clothes, shoes, toys, and canned goods. This contributes to what relief workers call “The Disaster After the Disaster.” Various shelters have specific needs, and if they receive a lot of items they don’t really need then those donations can become more burdensome than helpful. Also, donations may end up discarded if they cannot be physically delivered due to distribution channels being shut down.
Still looking to make a difference but can’t work pro-bono? Here are some of your best options for helping with disaster relief efforts:
Donate Money. While the preferred emergency response agency of the U.S. government is the American Red Cross, there are plenty of other groups that collect monetary donations after natural disasters. Just do some research first to ensure that you are donating to a reputable organization. Charity Navigator is a good place to start.
Give Blood. After natural disasters, the need for blood donations rises exponentially due to physical injuries people suffer. Not sure where to go to donate? This site from the American Red Cross will allow you to find the nearest blood drive center based on your zip code.
Share Your Space. If your office remains operational after a natural disaster, consider allowing less-fortunate friends and neighbors to use some of your resources, including office space, electricity, paper, and Wi-Fi.
Volunteer Your Time. Consider volunteering for events and activities that will help disaster victims. For instance, spend time working at a shelter, clean out damaged houses, or deliver meals to first responders.