Touro Law Center’s Disaster Relief Clinic
On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy earned its place in history as one of the costliest and most destructive natural disasters to disrupt the United States. Within three days of the storm, Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center established a help center for Sandy victims in need of legal services through a Hurricane Emergency Assistance and Referral Team (HEART) hotline. It was launched by the Touro Law Center together with partners the Suffolk County Bar Association, the Disaster Relief Center “You. Me. We.” and the student Disaster Relief Network. The main purpose was to provide referrals, assistance and legal advice for local residents and small businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy. The TLC- Heart hotline evolved into a full service legal clinic to address the changing needs of Sandy survivors. The Clinic stands as a voice for victims, a support system for those who feel helpless and need guidance, a community resource and an agent of change. The disaster relief clinic is one of its kind, helping thousands in need.
The mission of the Clinic is to assist Sandy-affected New York households with a focus on Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The Clinic assists clients with various legal issues and disputes including: flood insurance or homeowner insurance underpayments or denials of coverage; contractors who misappropriated funds or incorrectly performed contracted services; FEMA recoupments; assistance with NY Rising; working with policymakers to positively reform the flood insurance program; and assistance with the FEMA Sandy Claims Review Process.
Since the storm, the Clinic has been called upon by public officials to identify and discuss continuing problems facing the Sandy victims. Additionally, the Clinic has also offered help to other areas hit by disaster – providing tips and guidance to storm victims and disaster recovery agencies alike.
With faculty mentorship more than 120 law students from six different countries have helped Sandy-affected households as part of Touro Law Center’s Disaster Law program, including volunteers from Sothern University Law Center in Baton Rouge and Duke Law School.
Although many who were affected by sandy will always see it as a delineating point of their lives, forever relating stories to generations to some as events that came before the storm and events that came after, we are proud to have assisted thousands of homeowners to significantly reduce the impact.
We are proud to have spoken with over 5,000 households to date, and represented more than 1,600 unique households.
We have put over $4,000,000 back into our local communities as a result of flood insurance lawsuits and review cases, FEMA litigation and review as well as FEMA IHP. We have assisted more than 200 homeowners through the NY Rising process, and terminated FEMA Individuals and Household Program debts in excess of $100,000. The success of our clinic was not a singular effort, but due to our collaborative efforts with our non-profit community.
Five years after Sandy, we still have more than 125 active cases with additional calls from affected homeowners daily.
There is a dedicated hotline for Superstorm Sandy Assistance. If you need help, please call 631.761.7198.
For additional information about our clinic, please contact Clinic Director Melissa Luckman.
Melissa H. Luckman
Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law
Director of the Disaster Relief Clinic
Touro Law Center
225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722