Low-Income Populations: Underrepresented Socially, Overrepresented as Victims of Natural Disasters: Using the Law to Solve a Serious Problem

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 90 minutes
Recorded Date: February 22, 2019
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  • Effects of natural disasters on low income poulations
  • Strategies to provide solutions for Low-Moderate income and Underserved Populations Pre- and Post-Disaster
  • Response and Recover for All: Updating the Local and State Legal Toolbox
Runtime: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Recorded: February 22, 2019


Media reports on recent disasters continue to confirm that underrepresented populations suffer most acutely from the losses associated with natural disasters. Low- and moderate-income individuals and the institutions and businesses that serve them are frequently hit first and hardest by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and other natural hazards. These individuals and families recover last, if at all. Efforts by various organizations and municipalities to assist in addressing this disparate impact are underway.

This program brings together a panel of experts from across the country to explore this phenomenon, discuss solutions, and solicit audience input on paths forward for use in the forthcoming ABA book on Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction. The program will address public, private, and NGO legal strategies to improve equitable outcomes and lower recovery cost/time for low-moderate income and underserved populations pre- and post-disaster.

The panel will explain how the use of HUD Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief funds aided in Hurricane Sandy Recovery in New York. The panel will also discuss "Community Prosecution", an innovative group within the Dallas City Attorney's Office that uses a variety of legal tools and non-legal strategies to bring properties into compliance with all city codes. This includes land use, floodplain, storm water, building, and property codes. "Community Prosecution" works throughout the city and has a strong presence in low-income areas, working to ensure that structures and properties in low-income areas are in the best condition to withstand whatever disaster may come.

Finally, our faculty will describe Hurricane Harvey recovery in Texas, and discuss some of the positive actions taken by NGOs to assist vulnerable populations in the aftermath of the event.

This program was recorded on February 22nd, 2019.

Provided By

American Bar Association


Chhunny Chhean

Interim Director of Procurement Services
City of Dallas

Chhunny Chhean is the Interim Director of Procurement Services for the City of Dallas.

Jo Ann Jay Howard, Esq.

H2O Partners

Jo Ann is the President of H2O Partners, Inc. H2O is a Woman Owned business consulting in pre and post disaster programs and planning. It provides training to agents, lenders and adjusters nationwide for FEMA. We provide assistance to federal agencies, states, cities, counties, RGOs, River Authorities and special districts such as hospitals in Public Assistance, Hazard Mitigation Planning, insurance issues, debris monitoring and other aspects of planning for and recovering from natural and human caused hazards.

John T. Marshall

Associate Professor
Georgia State University College of Law

John Travis Marshall, assistant professor of law, is interested in the challenges associated with the growth and contraction of urban areas. In particular, Marshall studies private, nonprofit and government interventions to promote long-term urban recovery from crisis and disasters.

Marshall joined Georgia State Law from Yale Law School, where he was a clinical lecturer in law and the Ludwig Community Development Fellow. From 2007 to 2011, he was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. In that role, Marshall advised NORA on post-Hurricane Katrina implementation of the Authority’s urban revitalization efforts, including land acquisition, development, and disposition programs.

Prior to his work in New Orleans, Marshall was a partner with Holland & Knight LLP, specializing in land use and zoning matters as well as real estate litigation. Following law school, he served as a law clerk to U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Jenkins, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Marshall earned a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, and a J.D. from the University of Florida College of Law. He teaches Environmental Law and Land Use Law.

Erin Capps

Project Director
Atkins Global

Erin Capps is a Project Director at Atkins Global.

Edward A. Thomas

Natural Hazard Mitigation Association

Ed Thomas is president of the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association and an elected member of the ABA Council of the Section of State and Local Government Law. He is also chair of the ABA Hazards Sub-Committee of the Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee. In addition, he serves on the Advisory Committee of the Natural Hazards Center of the University of Colorado, and is an active member of both the American Planning Association and the American Geophysical Union. He is a former board member of the Association of State Floodplain Managers and now serves as the senior liaison for that organizations No Adverse Impact Committee. Mr. Thomas retired from the Department of Homeland Security-Federal Emergency Management Agency after nearly 35 years of public service. During that time, he worked primarily in disaster mitigation, preparedness and response. He also was involved in community development, during his nearly 10 years with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mr. Thomas is a graduate of Fordham College and the New England School of Law in Boston. He is a frequent lecturer on emergency management issues, especially constitutional and legal aspects of floodplain regulations. He has authored dozens of publications and articles on various disaster-related issues and regularly participates as a member of national task forces and other boards in developing national disaster-related and floodplain management policies. He manages his own private practice, Edward A. Thomas Esq., LLC.

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