The Florida Bar

Hurricane Information

2018 Hurricane Information

The Florida Bar will be adding information, resources and recent hurricane-related news on this page for Florida Bar members and the public. Follow social media for additional updates.

The Florida Bar Tallahassee offices reopened Monday, October 15 after being closed due to Hurricane Michael.

 Please visit The Florida Supreme Court website for updates on Court closures.

Florida Disaster Legal Hotline: A legal aid hotline is now available for Hurricane Michael survivors in Florida who cannot pay for an attorney: 1-866-550-2929. The hotline operates through a partnership including The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyers Division, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). There is also a webpage with more details.

Governor Rick Scott has activated the Florida Disaster Fund to support those impacted by Hurricane Michael. The Governor has also activated the Emergency Bridge Loan Program for Small Businesses Damaged by Hurricane Michael. Visit the Governor’s main website for more updates.

RESOURCES FOR FLORIDA BAR MEMBERS

Work Space in Tallahassee: The First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee is offering Florida Bar members use of the court’s multipurpose room this week thru Oct. 19. The room has power, WiFi, and work space for 40 attorneys. Contact Marshal Kevin Taylor at 850/487-1000 if you still do not have power.

Member Benefits: More than a dozen Florida Bar Member Benefit providers offer free trials or initial services for Florida Bar members, including practice resources, legal forms and legal research.

  • Fastcase Legal Research has posted a support page for attorneys impacted by Hurricane Michael and is arranging for longer free trials for those that need it. Call toll free at 1-866-77-FASTCASE, or contact them by e-mail at [email protected] They are also offering a free trial of their new Docket Alarm service to stay on top of dockets for all federal cases, and for most state cases in Florida.
  • Clio is offering 3 free months for law firms impacted by Hurricane Michael, or for clinics helping impacted persons.
  • Ruby Receptionists is offering a rebate for lawyers impacted by the Hurricane. Visit their page to learn more.
  • Rocket Matter is offering three free months of service for existing or new customers while law firms get back on their feet. Contact them at [email protected] or call 866-710-1845 for more information.

The Florida Supreme Court posts announcements about state court closures on its emergency information page in the event of a hurricane or other disaster, so please check this page if an event occurs.

The Florida Office of State Courts Administrator also posts information when a hurricane impacts our courts.

The Florida Bar Foundation works to ensure that our statewide civil legal aid team, families, offices, and information are protected. Visit https://thefloridabarfoundation.org/storm-aid for resources and volunteer opportunities for legal aid and pro bono attorneys, as well as information to help Floridians seeking civil legal aid.

LegalFuel: The Practice Resource Center of The Florida Bar has disaster planning information and resources for Bar members collected on one page including links to The American Bar Association disaster response, preparedness, and recovery advice; a LexisNexis publication “Surviving Disasters: Questions and Considerations for Law Firms Preparing Business Continuity Plans;” an after disaster strikes checklist; as well as links to FEMA, DisasterAssistance.gov, and disaster recovery services provided by the Florida Small Business Development Council. Advisors can assist members by phone during regular business hours (866-730-2020) and the live chat feature at LegalFuel.com is active. In addition, members may email for assistance: [email protected].

Florida Free Legal Answers: Although attorneys are strongly cautioned against engaging in the solicitation of hurricane victims (which is prohibited by Rule 4-7.18), the Florida Free Legal Answers program offers a relatively easy way to lend your expertise. It is easy to do, takes only a couple of minutes and can mean so much to those in need.

RESOURCES FOR FLORIDA CONSUMERS

Florida Disaster Legal Hotline: A legal aid hotline is now available for Hurricane Michael survivors in Florida who cannot pay for an attorney: 1-866-550-2929. The hotline operates through a partnership including The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyers Division, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Read our release for more information.

Legal Services of North Florida, Inc. has provided the following info:

Individuals who need legal assistance may apply to the following branch offices to be screened for eligibility for services:

Tallahassee Branch Office
Serving Leon, Jefferson, Wakulla
and Franklin Counties
(850) 385-9007
Fort Walton Beach Branch Office
Serving Okaloosa and Walton Counties
(850) 862-3279
Quincy Branch Office
Serving Gadsden, Liberty, Calhoun
and Jackson Counties
(850) 875-9881
Pensacola Branch Office
Serving Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties
(850) 432-8222
Panama City Branch Office (closed)
Serving Bay, Gulf, Homes and Washington Counties
(850) 769-3581
(Calls will be routed to other branches) 
 

 

Florida Free Legal Answers is an online advice clinic to match low-income Floridians with licensed attorneys who can answer basic legal questions at florida.freelegalanswers.org. Floridians affected by Hurricane Michael can post questions and receive answers from attorney volunteers through this Florida Bar/ABA program.

Unlawful Solicitations: Florida citizens should use caution and good judgment in any emergency, particularly when dealing with representatives of insurance companies or direct contact from lawyers. Any contact by a lawyer or a lawyer’s representative in person or by telephone asking to handle a specific case is a direct violation of The Florida Bar’s disciplinary rules, unless the injured party has requested contact from the lawyer. Only a lawyer can give legal advice and provide legal services. Florida Bar rules also prohibit lawyers from writing or emailing within 30 days of an accident unless they have been specifically asked to provide information. To report an unlawful contact or the unlicensed practice of law, please contact The Florida Bar at (866) 352-0707.

Legal Complaints: If you feel you have been unfairly treated by a lawyer, contact The Florida Bar’s Attorney Consumer Assistance Program (ACAP) at (866) 352-0707. The Florida Bar is responsible for prosecuting unethical lawyers for sanctions to be imposed by the Supreme Court of Florida.

“Mass Disaster” Consumer Pamphlet: The Florida Bar’s consumer pamphlet for victims of mass disasters provides guidance for consumers on who to contact for legal assistance and how to protect their legal rights, read more here. (En español aquí.) The Bar also has pamphlets on “Homeowners’ Insurance” and “Rights And Duties Of Tenants And Landlords” that could offer important information to people affected by the storm.

FEMA: To assist people and businesses in the recovery process, the Federal Emergency Management Agency may open Disaster Recovery Centers. You can search for centers on FEMA’s website. You should register with FEMA before visiting a recovery center. A FEMA app is available for Apple and Android mobile devices. To download, go to: fema.gov/mobile-app. There are instructions on how to file your claim here.

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers disaster assistance in the form of low-interest loans to businesses, renters, and homeowners located in regions affected by declared disasters. Visit its disaster assistance page to find out more.

Price gouging: State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, water, hotels, ice, gasoline, lumber and equipment, needed as a direct result of an officially declared emergency. Anyone who suspects price gouging during this declared state of emergency should report it to the Attorney General’s Office by calling (866) 9-NO-SCAM.

The Florida Offices of Insurance Regulation provides an insurance resources webpage with useful information and links including consumer alerts, links to other state agencies and hurricane claims data information. Call the insurance consumer hotline (877) 693-5236.

Florida Pro Bono Matters is another way to assist Floridians via an interactive website funded by The Florida Bar Foundation — both in hurricane recovery and year-round. You can view descriptions of available pro bono opportunities and indicate an interest in any of them; you then will be contacted by the posting organization with more information.

VOLUNTEER INFORMATION

The Florida Bar YLD, working in conjunction with the ABA Young Lawyers Section, is asking for volunteers to assist by returning calls placed to the YLD’s FEMA 1-800 hotline or at FEMA centers. Volunteers provide basic legal services for low-income individuals in non-fee generating cases. The most pressing need is for volunteers to return calls. To volunteer, complete this form and review the  FEMA Disaster Assistance Manual for Legal Services Advocates. The types of legal questions most frequently asked will involve landlord/tenant and other housing problems, consumer protection matters, and home repair contracts. For more information, visit the YLD FEMA page.

Florida Free Legal Answers: Although attorneys are strongly cautioned against engaging in the solicitation of hurricane victims (which is prohibited by Rule 4-7.18), the Florida Free Legal Answers program offers a relatively easy way to lend your expertise. A new category has been created for Floridians impacted by Hurricane Michael to post their legal questions in. Please, log in to your account and subscribe to the “Hurricane Michael” category. By subscribing to the “Hurricane Michael” category you will receive an email alert once a question is posted. The Bar requested, and the ABA has approved, a temporary increase of the qualifying cap so that Floridians can access the site and post questions relating to Hurricane Michael.

Florida Pro Bono Matters is another way to assist Floridians via an interactive website funded by The Florida Bar Foundation — both in hurricane recovery and year-round. You can view descriptions of available pro bono opportunities and indicate an interest in any of them; you then will be contacted by the posting organization with more information.

National Disaster Legal Aid Advocacy Center welcomes all advocates and volunteers from nonprofit legal aid organizations, bar associations, pro bono counsel from law firms and corporations, law school students and faculty, and allied nonprofits working on disaster legal aid. To sign up, please click here. The website has links to a multitude of disaster relief manuals and training tools.

Government and Other Services

FEMA: People who have sustained property damage as a result of the severe storms and flooding are urged to register with FEMA, as they may be eligible for federal and state disaster assistance. People can register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or via smartphone or Web-enabled device at m.fema.gov. Applicants may also call (800) 621-3362 or (800) 462-7585 (TTY) from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Flood survivors also are encouraged to call the FEMA hotline to report their damage. For more information on Florida’s recovery, visit the disaster Web page at www.fema.gov/hurricane-irma and on Twitter at twitter.com/fema.

SBA: Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available for eligible applicants. SBA helps businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private nonprofit organizations, homeowners, and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or damaged personal property. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries. For more information, contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955, email [email protected], or visit SBA’s website at disasterloan.sba.gov. People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339.

Florida Governor Scott: Latest announcements on state of Florida disaster response.

Attorney General Bondi: Information on price gouging and other consumer protection issues.

Hurricane Claims Data Information: Check the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation for useful information and links, including consumer alerts, links to other state agencies and hurricane claims data information.

Florida County Emergency Management Contacts

Florida Department of Health Hurricane Information

American Red Cross

Salvation Army

Missing Persons Registries