The Legal Crises to Follow in Hurricane Harvey’s Wake

Lawyers in Houston are acting as first responders, connecting victims with insurance issues, among others, to pro bono assistance.

News Story (Texas)

Vann Newkirk
Atlantic, The
August 29, 2017

Tags: Disaster Recovery

Organizations mentioned/involved: Lone Star Legal Aid, Legal Services Corporation (LSC), Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA)


With much of the Houston area still underwater, levees in surrounding countiesbreached, and stormwater reservoirs overflowing, it might seem an odd time for victims of Hurricane Harvey to think about legal services. But as first responders try to save lives in the middle of an increasingly deadly storm, legal-aid organizations along the Gulf Coast of Texas are already working to assist victims with a process that can be almost as stressful as a natural disaster itself: rebuilding.

Disasters like Harvey can create legal crises for families that last long after the waters recede. Long-term evacuees from neighborhoods like those near theAddicks Reservoir’s spillways, which might be flooded for months, are at risk of having their homes auctioned off if they can’t move back in soon enough. People who flee can lose track of their mortgage payments and face foreclosure when they return. Evacuees from rental properties and apartments can face evictions, rising rents, and other challenges from unscrupulous landlords.