October’s record-breaking rainfall and subsequent flooding devastated parts of South Carolina, and the legal community is stepping up to provide assistance to those who have been affected. Flood victims who are facing legal issues and are unable to afford a lawyer will benefit from a partnership between the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, the South Carolina Bar, the South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division, and South Carolina Legal Services.
A toll-free legal aid hotline is now available to residents of the counties that were declared flood disaster areas. By calling 1-877-797-2227 ext. 120 or (803) 576-3815 between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, flood victims in Charleston, Dorchester, Georgetown, Horry, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, Lee, Clarendon, Kershaw, Florence, and Williamsburg counties will be matched with South Carolina lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal assistance. Online assistance is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. South Carolinian flood victims who need legal assistance but live outside those counties may contact South Carolina Legal Services at 888-346-5592.
The immediate needs of food, water, and shelter are subsiding, so lawyers participating in this program are prepared to assist in matters such as securing FEMA and other government benefits; life insurance, medical insurance, and property insurance claims; home construction, home reconstruction, and home repair contracts and contractors; consumer protection matters; mortgage-foreclosure problems; and landlord-tenant problems. There are, however, limitations on disaster legal services. Participating lawyers cannot offer assistance in cases that will produce a fee, such as those in which they would be paid as part of the court settlement. Callers involved in such cases will be directed to local lawyer referral services.
The Washington Post reports that sixteen lives were lost during the storms, and 5.7 trillion gallons of water fell in South Carolina over a five-day period. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture offers a conservative early estimate of a $300 million direct crop loss. Recovery from this tragedy will take the time and effort of all South Carolinians, and CompuScripts Court Reporters applauds the legal community’s assistance to meet these very specific needs.
Roads and bridge remain closed throughout South Carolina, and that means more commuters jockeying for fewer routes, especially during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The problem is compounded by the slower speeds at which drivers travel as they navigate unfamiliar territory. CompuScripts would like to advise attorneys and paralegals that travel the state for court appearances or depositions to leave early and be patient. Be prepared to pass the time by listening to your favorite podcast or trying a new audio book. Also, remember to abandon your GPS and check the highway conditions of your route before you get in your car. One good resource is the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s online Road Condition System. Click on a particular county or Interstate for a complete list of specific closures. As of Monday, October 19, these counties listed as disaster areas were reporting the following closures:
In Charleston County, all roads are open, but expect lane closures on I-526. All lanes are expected to reopen by October 31.
In Dorchester County, only one road remains closed. It is expected to reopen by October 31.
In Orangeburg County, four roads are closed due to flooding, road washout, and bridge collapse. Two should reopen by October 31, with the remaining two reopening after November 26.
In Clarendon County, 16 roads are closed due to flooding or road washout. Roads are expected to reopen after November 26.
In Georgetown County, four roads are closed due to flooding or road washout. All roads should be reopened after November 26.
In Horry County, eight roads are closed due to flooding or bridge washout. They are expected to reopen by October 31. Lanes are closed on three roads, and all are expected to reopen by October 31.
In Williamsburg County, four roads remain closed due to road washout or bridge damage. All roads should be reopened after November 26.
In Lexington County, 12 road closures are reported. None are expected to reopen until after November 26.
In Richland County, 72 road closures are reported due to flooding, road or bridge washout, or sinkholes. Approximately one third of these roads should reopen by October 31. The remaining roads will not reopen until after November 26. Three roads are still experiencing lane closures that will not be reopened until after November 26.
In Sumter County, 17 road closures are reported due to flooding and bridge or road washout. Six are expected to reopen by October 31, with the remaining roads reopening after November 26. Starting at Community Street, lanes are closed on US-76 BUS, but traffic is moving with traffic control.