Victims of Hurricane Katrina and Touro Law Students Help Those Affected by Sandy
Director of Communications
Central Islip, N.Y. – Eight students from Southern University Law Center, located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana arrived at Touro Law Center on Sunday, August 4 to spend a week at Touro Law’s Disaster Assistance Clinic that has been helping victims of Superstorm Sandy since the storm hit. Some of the Louisiana students lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina.
Touro Law students have visited the Gulf Coast every year since Hurricane Katrina to provide disaster relief, and this service trip of students from Southern Law marks the first time that students from the Gulf Coast will visit the New York area to provide similar assistance.
"Since Superstorm Sandy, our region faces many of the same problems that plagued the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. Touro Law students have travelled to New Orleans every year since Katrina to provide assistance to those in need in their region and now law students from Southern Law are travelling here to provide similar service in our region," stated Touro Law Center Dean Patricia Salkin. "This highlights the fact that law students are committed to advocacy and helping those in need."
The students from Southern Law arrived on Long Island on Sunday evening. On Monday, they will begin their service trip with an Orientation at Touro Law to review the effects of the storm and the ongoing projects and cases that Touro Law students are currently handling. Southern Law students will then join Touro Law's efforts in the field.
Iriane B. Lee, a second year student at Southern University Law Center stated, "Over the years, people from across the world have left their families, schools, and jobs to assist in revitalizing cities along the Gulf Coast. We are extremely excited about the volunteer opportunities Touro Law has provided us to help others in need. In any capacity, we are willing to assist the residents of Long Island in rebuilding their confidence and assessing their legal needs."
Law students from around the country have travelled to Touro Law to provide assistance in legal recovery work since the storm, including University of York, England, St. Thomas Law School, Phoenix Law School, Siena College among others. Students from other law schools are scheduled to visit throughout the upcoming academic year to assist in the long-term hurricane recovery work. Law students have opportunities to work in Touro Law Center's Disaster Relief Clinic, go into the field as part of a Legal Needs Survey and Outreach project, assist with research of difficult hurricane related questions and more. Partnering with the Suffolk County Attorney's Office, Nassau Suffolk Law Services, Empire Justice, Erase Racism, Community Development Corporation, the city of Long Beach as well as many additional small not-for-profit organizations, students coming to Long Island will have the opportunity to work under the supervision of licensed attorneys on a variety of projects ranging from preparation for complex insurance litigation, direct client contact developing intakes and research to prepare policy recommendations.
Rachel Piercey, Executive Director of The Pro Bono Project in Louisiana stated, "Pay it forward was the first thought that came to mind when Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast. What could those of us do who benefitted greatly from the assistance of out of state lawyers and law students upon the heels of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, only three weeks apart? I was not surprised to learn that Touro Law was getting ready to host Louisiana law students who will be assisting with their Sandy caseload after years of Touro Law students visiting our region to do the same."
Touro Law opened the Touro Law Center – Hurricane Emergency Assistance and Referral Team (TLC-HEART) just days after the storm to provide help, referral and assistance to storm victims. To date, TLC-HEART and the newly launched Disaster Relief Clinic, which opened in January, have received more than 1,400 phone calls and/or emails since the storm from community members in need. Legal issues deal with insurance, landlord-tenant problems, mortgage/foreclosure complications among others.