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$1.4M granted to help 2020 derecho survivors find legal help

Survivors of natural disasters often require legal aid to file for FEMA assistance and insurance benefits.

DES MOINES, Iowa — EDITOR'S NOTE: The above video is from August 2021

The Legal Services Corporation, a nonprofit that aims to provide civil legal assistance to low-income Americans, has awarded $1.4 million to Iowa Legal Aid to help victims of the August 2020 derecho.

The derecho tore through Iowa with little to no warning, leaving three Iowans dead and thousands without power in following weeks.

According to a press release from LSC, survivors of natural disasters often require legal aid to file for FEMA assistance and insurance benefits. 

Challenges also arise when it comes to document replacement, unemployment and related evictions. In order to combat the issues victims are still facing, access to legal representation is a must.

“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 in a release. “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.”

According to Iowa Legal Aid, the funds will be used to enhance the legal representation of derecho survivors as well as push for more pro bono volunteers and expanded support for disaster response groups. 

The grant will also fund "additional staff, advertisements in rural areas, new equipment and a mobile intake unit."

ILA is one of 19 organizations around the country receiving grants to help victims of natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. 

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