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New Story Maps Show the Importance of Civil Legal Assistance for South Carolinians in Areas Hit Hardest by Hurricane Florence

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IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New Story Maps Show the Importance of Civil Legal Assistance for South Carolinians in Areas Hit Hardest by Hurricane Florence

(Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Media Contact:
Sue Berkowitz | [email protected] | 803-779-1113 x 101

Columbia, SC – South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, in partnership with Nelson Mullins, LLP, and the South Carolina Bar Foundation, is working to identify the needs of those most impacted by Hurricane Florence in the eastern part of South Carolina. Leveraging the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) expertise of the Self-Represented Litigation Network (SRLN.org) and the research and storytelling ability of Relatable Communications Group, the team created a set of interactive, online story maps, known as “Stronger than the Storm.” The story maps demonstrate how civil legal help is vital for disaster recovery and identifies those most impacted by Hurricane Florence, along with the barriers they are facing. During this difficult time, these barriers to needed resources and assistance will only increase the difficulties they will face as they attempt to rebuild their lives. Further, these maps demonstrate the vulnerabilities many South Carolinians are currently experiencing around the state, including: poverty, hunger, and inadequate access to affordable health care and housing.

Hurricane Florence is expected to rank among the 10 costliest U.S hurricanes, causing an estimated $44 billion in damage across the Carolinas. In South Carolina, flooding devastated eight disaster-declared counties and more neighboring counties outside of the federally-declared zone. Crop damage in the state is estimated to exceed $125 million, causing many farm workers to be out of the job for months to come. These workers, as well as those living on fixed and modest incomes—the elderly, veterans, people with disabilities and others—will need extra help getting their lives back to normal.

The project identifies communities that will most likely need support before, during, and after a hazardous event and categorizes them by various metrics including disability, seniors, renters, agricultural jobs, those without health insurance and more. The project also identifies the state’s civil legal aid organizations, shelters and Red Cross Sites that provide services to hurricane survivors.

“We know many of our neighbors are struggling to recover in the aftermath of this storm. All too often the suffering left behind goes unseen, but not this time. This project has allowed us to put together an amazing resource that demonstrates the struggles of vulnerable people in our state,” says Sue Berkowitz, Director of South Carolina Appleseed. “We are so pleased to be partnering with Nelson Mullins, LLP and the SC Bar Foundation, and we know this data will continue to help inform the efforts to provide needed assistance for years to come.”

“This project amplifies the need for legal assistance for those who can least afford it and why we support so many organizations that step up to serve those who cannot have access to justice without the help of our grantees,” says Megan Seiner, Executive Director of the SC Bar Foundation.

“This project helps us understand the vast need for free legal assistance in not just the impacted areas but throughout the state. We are pleased to be a part of this mapping project as continued support of pro bono efforts by our firm,” says Norah Cooney Rogers, Administrator of Nelson Mullins Pro Bono
Program. “We, along with fellow members of the SC Bar, are committed to providing civil legal help to those impacted by the storm.”

We are grateful for the work of our partners, SRLN, the national backbone organization for justice system professionals seeking to close the civil justice gap by reforming America’s civil justice system through evidence-based innovation and data-driven decision making, and Relatable Communications Group, a full-service marketing communications and public relations agency with expertise in the legal, medical, higher education and nonprofit sectors.