March 20, 2019 – Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has declared a statewide State of Emergency for flooding caused by rapid snowmelt and rain. For law offices impacted by flooding, the State Bar of Wisconsin has resources available to you and your clients.
There’s a reason March 18-22 is Flood Safety Awareness Week. Spring snowmelt can cause serious flooding in Wisconsin’s lake, river, and lowland zones, and spring and summer rains can exacerbate the situation. Flooding is an ongoing concern.
If your practice has experienced any flooding, we encourage you to contact Christopher Shattuck, the State Bar’s Law Practice Assistance Manager, at (800) 957-4670 or org cshattuck wisbar wisbar cshattuck org to discuss how the State Bar can best assist you.
The State Bar’s Practice 411™ Program can provide interim meeting space as well as information, solutions, and suggestions on how to get your practice back up and running, and the Wisconsin Lawyers Assistance Program (WisLAP) can provide confidential counseling for those feeling overwhelmed by disaster situations.
The State Bar can also be a source of information for your clients and the public. Some helpful resources to share with clients include:
· 2-1-1 Wisconsin provides 24-hour, confidential, free resource information related to disasters issues. Access by calling 2-1-1 or (877) 947-2211 or by searching the 2-1-1 online database of community resources for flooding victims.
· Red Cross Resources. Find open Red Cross shelters at redcross.org/shelters or download Red Cross apps to understand and prepare for flooding or to receive weather alerts. Visit https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/mobile-apps.html, or call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767).
· Flood Insurance. Find information about flood insurance at FEMA, http://www.floodsmart.gov/.
· Emergency Preparedness. Find tips at https://readywisconsin.wi.gov.
The State Bar also has general disaster assistance information available at wisbar.org/disaster, including a toll-free legal hotline for disaster victims. Call (877) WISLAW1 or (877) 947-5291. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Wisconsin Free Legal Answers
Individuals seeking legal help for disaster-related issues may also submit questions online at any time by going to Wisconsin Free Legal Answers at https://wi.freelegalanswers.org.
Free Legal Answers is a free legal clinic that individuals can use to request brief legal advice on civil legal issues from Wisconsin lawyers. This service is a project of the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission with support from the State Bar of Wisconsin. It is part of the ABA Free Legal Answers project. Volunteers are able to assist with most civil (no criminal) legal issues, including:
· Assistance with securing Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government benefits available to disaster survivors
· Help with life, medical and property insurance claims
· Assistance with home repair contracts and contractors
· Issues with wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the disaster.
· Help with consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures
· Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems
· Counseling on landlord-tenant problems
The State Bar is a partner in providing disaster-related assistance and information to members and the public. Let us know if you need help, and keep us on your radar.
· Disasters and a Lawyer’s Ethical Obligations – Wisconsin Lawyer (January 2019)
· Law Firm Disaster Planning: Tomorrow Could Be a Day Too Late – InsideTrack (September 2019)
· Expect the Unexpected: A Lesson from Hurricane Harvey – InsideTrack (September 2017)