New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 07/07/08
CONTACT:Barbara S. Straczynski
Director of Communications
732-937-7524

Disaster Relief Needed for Iowa

In response to the disastrous tornadoes and flooding in eastern Iowa, a Disaster Relief Fund has been set up within the Iowa State Bar Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation, for those who want to make a contribution. Based on what can be ascertained regarding costs, and the number of attorneys who are incurring these costs, a task force established by the Board of Governors of the Iowa State Bar Association has set a goal of raising $500,000 to be given as grants to those attorneys. The money will be distributed based on individual need. Contributions should be made out to: The Iowa State Bar Foundation, 625 East Court Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50309.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second largest city, is the hardest hit area. Current estimates are that nearly 7,200 properties over a nine-square-mile section of the city have been affected by flood waters. Of the 7,200, approximately 1,300 are businesses including law offices, many of which were located downtown within blocks of the Cedar River. According to the Des Moines Register newspaper, an estimated 27 government buildings have been damaged to some degree. Disaster officials are trying to determine now whether the federal courthouse and the Linn County courthouse, both of which sit on the river, are salvageable. The prospects do not look favorable.

Estimates are that as many as 250 attorneys in the Cedar Rapids area could be affected to some degree, with about 30 - 50 having lost everything. The number could exceed 1,000 if support staff and others who depend on income from the disrupted practices are included. The Iowa State Bar Association learned on July 3 that another dozen attorneys in the Iowa City-Coralville area in eastern Iowa have been displaced as a result of their law offices being flooded.

Late last month, the Iowa State Bar Association our Board of Governors established a task force to assist affected attorneys. Of greatest concern are those attorneys who are solo practitioners or small firms. One solo practitioner, for example, with a small building in the heart of the flooded area has a $20,000 cleanup bill pending.

The task force reviewed the needs of the affected attorneys as best as those needs can be determined at this time. Two major needs surfaced – cleanup and file reclamation. For the most part, both require specialists to accomplish. After much discussion, task force members determined that money to help defray the costs of these specialists would be the best way to help affected attorneys. Office space, furniture, computers and office supplies are being provided by other non-affected attorneys and organizations.

Disasters, obviously, cannot be anticipated. It’s comforting to know that the legal community outside of our state is willing to help.

Dwight Dinkla

Executive Director

The Iowa State Bar Association

625 East Court Ave.

Des Moines, IA 50309

515-697-7867

ddinkla@iowabar.org