Hurricane Sandy is long gone, but for thousands of New Yorkers the grief is far from over. For many, the bureaucratic nightmare of dealing with FEMA claims, insurance companies, unemployment benefits and housing matters can be daunting. Over the past few weeks, volunteers from our New York office have headed to areas of New York City and Long Island particularly hard-hit by the storm to staff legal clinics. The clinics, organized by The Legal Aid Society, The City Bar Justice Center and the New York Legal Assistance Group, are staffed by volunteer lawyers who provide basic advice, answering questions and helping with the laborious form submission process.
Associate Efrem Schwalb assisted at two locations – “Every individual I saw had unique issues and questions -- FEMA, home insurance, contents insurance, assisting in filling out forms, how long would it take for checks to come, etc. Then, there were some who didn't really have a specific issue, but seemed like they just wanted someone to talk to.”
These thoughts were echoed by Associate Alan Rothman – “In addition to a myriad of Sandy-related questions, an unanticipated aspect of the evening, well beyond the technical legal support, was simply lending an ear to those who have suffered, and relieving a palpable sense of loneliness among those who sought assistance. From a personal perspective, living in an area severely impacted by Sandy and knowing individuals whose lives have been turned upside down, the impact of the storm extends well beyond the physical recovery from the storm. The sense that someone cares and is willing to spend an evening just to talk, may have been just as valuable as whatever legal assistance could be offered.”
In addition to Efrem and Alan, volunteers thus far include: Partner Peter Haveles and Associates Trevor Owens, Peter Roth, and Jonathan Schaefler.
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