A seminar was held to provide lawyers Hurricane Harvey disaster relief training on October 11 at South Texas College of Law Houston.

Saundra Brown, of Lone Star Legal Aid’s Disaster Relief Unit, led the training that focused on Federal Emergency Management Agency applications and how to file an appeal for a FEMA denial.

“We are anticipating more FEMA denials to come in so we wanted to prepare pro bono attorneys in an area where there will be a need soon,” said Teresa Messer, secretary of the State Bar of Texas Asian Pacific Interest Section. “There had already been some trainings on how to file a FEMA claim but not any that focused on what happens when the claim is denied and how to appeal that claim.”

The hope was to reach communities “that have been impacted by Harvey but where there may be language or cultural barriers to those individuals seeking legal assistance,” Messer said. “Because the legal needs for Harvey survivors will vary and last for several years, this will likely be one of many pro bono efforts that will be organized by the local community.”

Information was also provided about legal clinics and pro bono efforts lawyers can take part in.

The training was sponsored by the Asian American Bar Association of Houston, State Bar of Texas Asian Pacific Interest Section, Boat People SOS—Houston, Hispanic Bar Association of Houston, Houston ECI, Houston Lawyers Association, Lone Star Legal Aid, OCA Greater Houston, South Asian Bar Association of Houston, and South Texas College of Law Houston.

“The leaders of the various diversity organizations that co-sponsored this event shared a common goal to help the people of Houston rebuild what they have lost by providing some form of pro bono assistance,” said Punam Kaji, chair of the State Bar of Texas Asian Pacific Interest Section. “We will continue to keep our ear to the ground regarding Harvey-related access to justice needs and specific legal issues so we can inform our membership and again get attorneys trained and ready to assist.”