Puerto Rico Legal Services receives $882,000 to help earthquake victims
On January 7, 2020, Puerto Rico witnessed a deadly 6.4 magnitude earthquake that claimed the lives of Puerto Ricans and left many injured.
Another catastrophic earthquake struck the island on May 2, with a magnitude of 5.4, leaving Tallaboa, a suburb of Ponce, in ruins.
These earthquakes forced nearly 7,500 residents from their homes and were placed in shelters and tents.
Two years later, the island is now receiving legal assistance to file a petition with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) so it can get back on its feet.
Legal Services Corporation, an initiative launched in 1974 to provide residents with civil legal aid, said it would provide $38 million in grants to 19 civil legal aid organizations in areas affected by natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.
Puerto Rico Legal Services, a branch of Legal Services Corporation, will receive $882,140 of the $38 million to be given to low-income residents who live in the southwest of the island.
“Low-income people who face civil legal issues as a result of natural disasters face an uphill battle, and they shouldn’t have to go it alone,” said LSC President Ronald S. Flagg. . “We are grateful that Congress recognizes the need for legal assistance in these recovering communities and provides this funding that will help our neighbors repair and stay in their homes, obtain key identification documents, apply for benefits and even more.”
Puerto Rico will use the grants to receive legal advice and representation to restore homes and other properties that have been damaged by natural disasters.
Other parts of America receiving help from this organization are Oregon, which has been hit by wildfires; California, which also received an abundance of wildfires; and Louisiana, a state that was destroyed in 2020 by hurricanes Delta, Laura and Ida.
Members of Congress were greeted with positive praise due to the new financial boost for states and territories in need.
“As our community struggles to recover from Hurricane Ida, COVID, and other challenges, it is important that our own government does not victimize its citizens through bureaucracy, legal roadblocks, and simply fails to respond” , said Rep. Garret Graves (LA-6).
“Legal Services Corporation has helped many people in need navigate the legal bureaucracy to get the help they need. This funding will provide the necessary resources for attorneys to assist with FEMA appeals, insurance claims, and many other challenges,” he continued.
Puerto Rico is no stranger to natural disasters. The island is still reeling from the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma, followed by Hurricane Maria the following month. The category five storm demolished most of the Caribbean in 2017.
Maria resulted in 2,981 deaths in Puerto Rico and an estimated $9.99 billion in destruction.