Preparedness Month: ABA Standing Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness – Month-long Virtual Disaster Symposium

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The ABA Standing Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness is presenting a month-long virtual disaster symposium in recognition of Preparedness Month. All of these programs will be held via zoom, free of charge to attorneys and non-attorneys alike. 

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Responding to a Natural Disaster During a Public Health Emergency – A State and Local Government Perspective

Tuesday, September 8, 2020: 1:00 – 2:30 CT

While the nation is focused on its response to COVID-19, state and local governments are faced with new challenges in responding to natural disasters during this public health emergency. This panel will feature perspectives from state and local governments to discuss what they are doing to adequately respond to this added complexity of emergency management. The program will also feature an overview of the FEMA Public Assistance Program, which helps state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and certain types of private nonprofit organizations respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies. Cosponsored by the ABA State and Local Government Committee.

Moderator: Andrew VanSingel, Chair, ABA Standing Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness

Speakers: Brock Long, Executive Chairman at Hagerty Consulting, former FEMA Administrator; Christy Rojas, Emergency Management Deputy Director and Emergency Coordinating Officer, Volunteer Florida; Capt. Kevin Sweeney, Commander of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division; Vance Taylor, Chief, Office of Access and Functional Needs, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services; Hon. Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge; Michelle F. Zaltsberg, Shareholder, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC


Coming Together When We Can’t Be Together—How to Help Disaster Survivors During a Public Health Crisis 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020: 1:00 – 2:30 CT

After a disaster, recovery centers are stood up to bring together agencies that can provide assistance to disaster survivors. Recovery centers are an integral part for the legal community to provide outreach, education, and legal services, as it is an efficient means of finding disaster survivors. A public health emergency like COVID19 may prevent these recovery centers from standing up after a major disaster, which begs the question—How do we find, and help these survivors? This panel will discuss the new ideas and opportunities of helping disaster survivors during an overlapping public health emergency. Cosponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants, the ABA Young Lawyers Division, and the Center for Pro Bono and Public Service.

Moderator: Ted Howard, Chair, ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants

Speakers: Linda Anderson Stanley, Director, Disaster Legal Services, ABA Young Lawyers Division; Linley Boone-Almaguer, Disaster Assistance Attorney, Edinburg Branch Manager, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid; Mary DeWitt-Dia, Manager, National Partnerships, Disaster Cycle Services, American Red Cross; Miri Miller, Deputy General Counsel, Americas, Dentsu Aegis Network; Free Palmer, Chief, Disaster Recovery Centers Unit, Individuals and Households Branch/ Field Services, Section, Individual Assistance Division, DHS/FEMA; Leslie N. Powell-Boudreaux, Executive Director, Legal Services of North Florida, Inc.; Elizabeth B. Savage, W. C. Dawson Fellow, Disaster Relief Project, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc.


Technology and the Courts: Bridging the Gap, or Deepening the Divide?

Tuesday, September 22, 2020: 1:00 – 2:30 CT

COVID-19 has forced court systems across the country to implement a number of changes to help the justice system continue to function in the time of public health crisis. From issuing marriage licenses remotely to conducting jury trials via Zoom, courts are using technology to keep the wheels of justice moving. But with a new way of doing things comes new issues, such as access to technology, access to in-person services, client confidentiality, and cybersecurity, to name a few. This panel will discuss what the courtroom looks like during a pandemic, and if an overlapping natural disaster will augment that playbook. Cosponsored by the ABA Judicial Division.

Moderator: Hon. Rena Van Tine, Associate Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County, Law Division, Law Jury Section

Speakers: Hon. Mark A. Drummond (ret.); Quinten Steenhuis, Clinical Fellow, Suffolk Law School Legal Innovation and Technology Lab; Claudia Johnson, Program Manager, LawHelp Interactive


Who Pays for Disasters, and Who Recovers Fastest

Tuesday, September 29, 2020: 1:00 – 2:30 CT

Disasters are costly, and even though money spent on mitigation can significantly reduce the money spent on response and recovery, disaster response in the United States seems to focus on the latter, creating a financial strain on the federal government. Many individuals lack adequate insurance, and governments can stand behind immunity laws, leaving a hefty price tag, which begs the question—who ultimately pays for disasters? This program will focus on who pays—and who should pay for natural disasters, as well as look into non-financial elements of recovery. The program will conclude with a preview of the ABA’s published Community Resilience Handbook.

Moderator: Andrew VanSingel, Chair, ABA Standing Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness

Speakers: Daniel Aldrich, Professor and Director of the Security and Resilience Studies Program, Northeastern University; Shelley Ross Saxer, Laure Sudreau Chair in Law, Caruso School of Law; Ed Thomas, General Counsel, Natural Hazard Mitigation Association


The recording of session “Responding to a Natural Disaster During a Public Health Emergency – A State and Local Government Perspective” presented on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 will soon be available on the ABA website.

While the nation is focused on its response to COVID-19, state and local governments are faced with new challenges in responding to natural disasters during this public health emergency. This panel will feature perspectives from state and local governments to discuss what they are doing to adequately respond to this added complexity of emergency management. The program will also feature an overview of the FEMA Public Assistance Program, which helps state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and certain types of private nonprofit organizations respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies. Cosponsored by the ABA State and Local Government Committee.

Moderator: Andrew VanSingel, Chair, ABA Standing Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness

Speakers: Brock Long, Executive Chairman at Hagerty Consulting, former FEMA Administrator; Christy Rojas, Emergency Management Deputy Director and Emergency Coordinating Officer, Volunteer Florida; Capt. Kevin Sweeney, Commander of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division; Vance Taylor, Chief, Office of Access and Functional Needs, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services; Hon. Lina Hidalgo, Harris County Judge; Michelle F. Zaltsberg, Shareholder, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC


The September 29 session will include a discussion of the just-published ABA Resilience Handbook; as will discussions during the 2020 Montana Resource Seminar and other presentations to be made soon. For information on the Montana sessions – which will be held via the web during the week of September 14, please contact either Traci Sears, Montana Flood Insurance coordinator, or her staff lead for this week of learning: Dr. Shaye Bodine.[shaye.bodine@mt.gov]

Title:                     “The Community Resilience Handbook”
Publisher:           ABA Publishing, Law Practice Division
Pages:                 470
Product Code:   5330251
ISBN:                   9781641057387
Size:                     6 x 9
Binding:              Paperback, eBook
Price:                   $79.95 List; $71.95 Members
Orders:                800-285-2221 or ShopABA.org

Please note: Digital review copies of the new ABA Resilience Handbook are available by sending an email to Francine Bennett at Francine.Bennett@americanbar.org. If you publish a review of this book, please send tear sheets or a copy for our files to ABA Publishing, 321 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654.