FACT SHEET: Hurricane Florence by the numbers
Poverty in the 34 counties hardest hit by Hurricane Florence
RALEIGH · January 29, 2020—North Carolinians still struggling to recover from Hurricane Florence will now have a much better shot at getting free legal help thanks to a record-breaking, $4.8 million federal grant to Legal Aid of North Carolina's Disaster Relief Project.
The Legal Services Corporation
announced the grant December 17 as one of 12 it awarded to civil legal aid groups in 11 states. Our grant was the largest of the 12, the largest ever awarded by LSC outside of its regular annual grant cycle, and one of the largest we have ever received outside of that cycle.
Located in Washington, D.C., the Legal Services Corporation is our country's leading funder of civil legal aid groups, providing hundreds of millions of dollars a year in federal funds to organizations in every state and territory in the nation. Civil legal aid groups are nonprofit law firms that provide free legal help in civil cases—i.e., non-criminal cases—to low-income people. Cases typically involve housing, domestic violence, consumer rights, public benefits and more.
Legal Aid of North Carolina is our state's sole recipient of LSC funds, which usually account for nearly half of our annual budget.
The funding for our $4.8 million disaster relief grant originated in the $19.1 billion
Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019, a federal spending package approved in June. As part of the package, Congress directed $15 million to LSC to fund free legal help for survivors of natural disasters that occurred between 2017 and 2019, including Hurricane Florence.
"I'm pleased that Legal Aid of North Carolina will receive a $4.8 million grant to provide legal services and coordinate support for victims of recent natural disasters,"
U.S. Rep. David Price (NC-4) said. "As North Carolina's only appropriator, I've focused on ensuring our state receives the resources needed to recover from major storms and flooding. It takes years to fully rebuild, and I'm glad Legal Aid of North Carolina will be there to help our citizens navigate the process."
"We continue to keep our promise by providing valuable assistance to the North Carolinians still rebuilding from some of our most disastrous storms,"
U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (NC-6) said. "The millions headed to our state will provide direct legal services to survivors, outreach clinics, and further coordination with other disaster partners. Recovery is a team sport and I could not be prouder of the collaborations with our neighborhoods, organizations, churches, local officials, and the federal government working in partnership to restore our communities."
"Legal services providers are a critical component of comprehensive disaster relief for survivors facing wrongful evictions, denials of insurance claims and benefits, and consumer scams,"
LSC President James J. Sandman said.
"We are deeply grateful to LSC for providing us with this funding,"
George R. Hausen, Jr., executive director of Legal Aid of North Carolina, said. "These new funds will fuel our ongoing work to hasten and improve the recovery and long-term economic chances of thousands of families in Eastern North Carolina. This part of our state has long suffered deep poverty, food insecurity, and diminished economic opportunity due to systemic inequality exacerbated by recurring natural disasters and the erratic and consistently underfunded recovery efforts that follow."
"Though Florence struck more than a year ago, this funding is as vitally important now as it has ever been," said
Lesley Albritton, managing attorney of the Disaster Relief Project. "Important legal issues can crop up long after a natural disaster, so it is crucial for legal aid to be part of a strong, long-term plan for a full and just recovery. This LSC grant ensures that Florence survivors will have access to critical legal help for years to come."
LSC's grant will allow us to more than triple the size of our Disaster Relief Project. The project's staff will increase from 11 people (nine attorneys and two paralegals) to 38 people (26 attorneys, 10 paralegals and two intake specialists). The new attorneys will serve two-year fellowships in our Greenville and Pembroke offices, and in a new office that we are opening in Rocky Mount.
Legal Aid of North Carolina's Disaster Relief Project provides free legal help to survivors of natural disasters. Its cases involve appealing denials of FEMA benefits, landlord-tenant issues, insurance claims, consumer scams, replacing important government documents (birth certificates, Social Security cards, etc.), and more.
In addition to providing direct legal help to survivors, project staff also:
Serve on the North Carolina Disaster Recovery Task Force, a multi-agency group convened by the Emergency Management division of the N.C. Department of Public Safety. Legal Aid's role on the task force is, in partnership with other agencies and organizations, to implement the housing section of the
Disaster Recovery Framework, the state's all-encompassing plan for responding to natural disasters. Legal Aid is responsible for handling cases involving public housing admissions and evictions, and terminations of housing subsidies, like Section 8 housing vouchers.
Initiate the Disaster Legal Services program immediately after a disaster in partnership with the North Carolina Bar Association, the American Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division and FEMA. The program establishes a statewide hotline that survivors can call to get legal help from Legal Aid attorneys and pro bono lawyers;
Embed in FEMA's Disaster Recovery Centers to provide know-your-rights materials to survivors, answer legal questions and spread the word about the availability of free legal services;
Curate and create content, including legal education videos in English and Spanish, on the
Disaster Relief section of our website.
To learn more about our Disaster Relief Project's response to Hurricane Florence, read
Disaster Legal Tech: Strategies for Providing Legal Information to Survivors in the Touro Law Review.
Lesley Albritton, managing attorney of the Disaster Relief Project, received a
Leaders in the Law award from North Carolina Lawyers Weekly last year for the project's response to Hurricane Florence.
Survivors of natural disasters who need legal help can call our toll-free statewide helpline, 1-866-219-LANC (5262), or submit an online application at
# # #
Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Sean Driscoll, Director of Public Relations, 919-856-2132,
Florence's ranking in the list of most destructive hurricanes to hit the U.S.
Highest land-based sustained wind speed. Measured Sept. 14 at Cape Lookout, N.C.
Maximum total rainfall. Measured in Elizabethtown, N.C.
Official North Carolina death toll.
Estimate of wind and water damage caused by Florence, according to NOAA.
Early estimate of agricultural losses in North Carolina.
Estimated number of structures that flooded in North Carolina.
North Carolinians who lost power.
Approved for individual assistance by FEMA.
Approved for individual assistance by FEMA after Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew.
Sources: Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Matthew
North Carolinians living in the 34 counties eligible for individual assistance from FEMA, more than a third of the entire state population.
Low-income residents of the 34 counties eligible for individual assistance from FEMA. Low-income defined as living at or under 200% of the federal poverty line.
North Carolinians who registered for disaster assistance.
Applications for individual assistance approved by FEMA.
Individual assistance funds approved by FEMA.
Population and poverty statistics for the 34 counties designated by FEMA as eligible for individual assistance following Hurricane Florence
Number in poverty
Percent in poverty
Number below 200% of poverty
Percent below 200% of poverty
Note: All figures reflect the population for whom the Census Bureau could determine poverty status. Actual figures may be higher.