Navigating Civil Legal Issues of Natural Disasters


Most libraries have made plans to secure and restore their facilities and collections in the event of disaster. Some plans include the aspect of libraries as first information responders who help to restore some order and normalcy to their communities. This training intends to fill a specific gap in most plans, which is how libraries can support the civil legal issues that community members encounter as a result of a natural disaster. These courses will equip library staff to recognize the civil legal issues of natural disasters and be prepared to provide information and resources that will guide patrons to positive outcomes.

This course series builds on the Creating Pathways to Civil Legal Justice series, which provides the foundational knowledge and skills for recognizing general civil legal issues and directing library users to relevant, helpful information and services.

This three-course series covers:

  • Recognizing patrons’ civil legal issues that result from a natural disaster and how libraries can support them.
  • Planning to prepare the library and their patrons before disasters occur.
  • Developing a collection of state and local disaster-related legal resources and legal aid, legal referrals.
  • Getting involved in the network of community disaster responders.
  • Meeting the immediate needs of disaster survivors.
  • Applying trauma-informed care to community members impacted by disaster.
  • Understanding the three key sources of disaster assistance in a major natural disaster – FEMA, SBA, and insurance.
  • Identifying key disaster-related legal issues when talking to patrons.
  • Recognizing long-term legal issues that persist months/years after a disaster.
  • Understanding the library’s role in supporting mitigation efforts.

By successfully completing these courses, participants will develop a Disaster Response & Recovery binder with hard copies of critical information and resources for survival and civil legal needs. This binder will be crucial for library staff to support their communities when power and Internet service are unavailable. 

Organizing a Learning Group for These Courses

While these courses are designed for the self-paced learner, the content presents a great opportunity to learn with your peers – whether a few co-workers at your branch or a multi-system training. Many people find that having a learning group of their peers helps them stay motivated and learn better. The organizer role is not an instructor but a facilitator – you don’t need to be a trainer or know the subject. You can discover more about facilitating learning groups on our Learning Group Facilitation Guide page.


Self-paced icon

Course FormatSelf-paced Course
Developed byWebJunction, in collaboration with Legal Services Corporation
Estimated Time to Complete4 hours

Overview

The first course focuses on the importance of building your network of disaster responders well before disaster strikes. It’s likely that your community has some level of emergency response planning in place, but do the key stakeholders recognize the role the library can play when integrated into their planning cycles? This course covers the basics of the Emergency Management Cycle and the civil legal issues that are likely to arise after natural disasters. It introduces actions to take so that the library and its staff have resources, partners, and strategies in place, so that they can help patrons know what to expect and what to have on hand to support the civil legal issues that arise in an emergency.  

Learning Objectives

As a result of taking this course, library staff will be able to:
  • Explain why it is critical to incorporate civil legal needs into a disaster response plan before crises occur. 
  • Recognize the civil legal issues that emerge in natural disasters and the timeline in which patrons are likely to experience them.
  • Prepare a disaster resource collection, including referrals to disaster legal assistance. 
  • Cultivate relationships and partnerships with local and state disaster response agencies.
  • Motivate their patrons to prepare for disasters.
  • Create a technology plan to get library services restored in the face of disaster.
Course Provider: WebJunction
Date added: 2022-09
Learning item type: on-demand
Self-paced iconCourse FormatSelf-paced Course

Developed by: WebJunction, in collaboration with Legal Services Corporation
Estimated Time to Complete: 6 hours

Overview

The first part of this course addresses trauma-informed care in the aftermath of disaster.  The second part of the course covers the primary funding sources for disaster recovery, including insurance and government assistance. When disaster strikes a region, everyone feels the traumatic impact to varying degrees. It’s critical to understand how to respond with sensitivity to the turmoil a patron is experiencing (trauma response) before diving into connecting patrons with disaster assistance.

If the disaster is federally declared, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) can provide government-funded individual assistance for a variety of crisis needs. Library staff can benefit from knowing basic information about the application and appeals processes, timelines, and dependencies of these assistance programs to be able to guide patrons to appropriate resources and manage their expectations.

Learning Objectives

As a result of taking this course, library staff will be able to:
  • Apply a trauma-informed approach in response to disaster survivors. 
  • Explain the general processes and dependencies of the primary funding sources for individual disaster assistance in a major natural disaster: insurance, FEMA, and SBA.  
  • Guide patrons to information and resources that will help them navigate disaster assistance. 
  • Manage patron expectations about how disaster assistance can help with recovery. 
  • Recognize common issues associated with disaster relief (e.g., landlord-tenant problems, contractor scams, and price gouging) and refer patrons to legal assistance.
Course Provider: WebJunction
Date added: 2022-09
Learning item type: on-demand
Self-paced icon

COMING SOON: AVAILABLE IN LATE 2022

Course FormatSelf-paced Course

Developed by: WebJunction, in collaboration with Legal Services Corporation

Overview

The crisis atmosphere may subside after six weeks or so, but the civil legal aspects of the upheaval extend over a longer period of time, well beyond six months. Issues around housing, finances, family, and education, are all exacerbated by disaster and persist over the intermediate and long range. Scams and fraud continue as long as there are potential victims. When library staff understand the sequence of assistance they can provide, they will be able to focus their immediate response on what’s urgent and prepare to address issues that may emerge later. Mitigation also comes into play; the best time to get people’s attention on preventative measures is right after a disaster when memory of the trauma is fresh.

Course Provider: WebJunction