Hurricane Sandy and civil legal aid (2012)

Three years after Sandy, the New York Times ran a story headlined, “Hurricane Sandy’s Red Tape Makes a Veteran Say, ‘I’d Rather Go Back to Falluja’“:

This year, revelations that engineers assessing flood damage for insurance companies altered some of their reports, leading to lower insurance payouts, were documented by The New York Times and “60 Minutes,” among other news organizations. At least one criminal investigation, started by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York, a Democrat, is now underway.

“When it was confirmed that these practices were happening — to the extent of outright fraud — it really showed people that they were right, it wasn’t just them,” said Victor Tello, a staff lawyer at South Brooklyn Legal Services, who is coordinating his office’s response to legal issues related to Hurricane Sandy.

Following Sandy, the Fair Share Housing Center in New Jersey lobbied for important changes in HUD’s rules by drawing on the experience of Katrina advocates. Such changes can go a long way in ensuring the most vulnerable members of our communities are provided for.

Out of $51 billion in disaster recovery funds for Sandy, Congress allocated $1 million for legal aid. That’s more than was allocated after Katrina, but still not nearly enough.