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6th Annual Disaster Law Report Back

Monday, April 9, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Max Rodriguez
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On April 9, 2012, UDC-DCSL held the 6th Annual Disaster Law Report Back Ceremony titled, "Reporting Back: Our Time in Mississippi.” The video and panel discussion offered students an opportunity to tell the DCSL community about their "Katrina and Beyond: Disaster Law” course and spring break experience working with the Mississippi Center for Justice to help the residents of Biloxi, MS find racial and economic justice following Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.

After a brief introduction by Brandon White, 3L, James King, 3L, screened a video he recorded and edited of the service-learning trip. There were interviews with Mississippi residents talking about the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. Some history of the Gulf Coast was presented, along with interviews of Derrick Evans of the Turkey Creek Community Initiative and Bonnie Alan of the Mississippi Center for Justice.

Brandon White, 3L, introduced the panel and asked each student what they worked on for the Katrina Law course. Marc Nielsen, 3L, explained that he worked on environmental impact of port expansion. He also said that he saw what happens to a community when regulators are uninformed. Joseph Coleman, 3L, said he did an analysis of port expansion and found that not many jobs would be created, especially for low-income residents of Biloxi, MS. Coury Mascagni, 3L, said he worked on affordable and sustainable housing along the Gulf Coast and described MEMA (Mississippi Emergency Management Agency) cottages. Carl Berry, 3L, said he did research on how to bring back the previous residents of the community and said there was a lack of affordable housing for them. 3Ls Debra Alia Cambel and Stacy Makris said they worked on heir and title work relating to the BP oil spill, passed out brochures to the Vietnamese community, and learned how Derrick Evans uses creative lawyering to protect the land. Sasha Ensslin, 3L, described her work on how Mississippi can comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Finally, Risa Lander said she worked with Prof. John Brittain on educational funding challenges in Mississippi.


The students who participated in the course include 3Ls Carl Berry, Verlene Biddings, Debra Alia Cambel, Joseph Coleman, Sasha Ensslin, Erin Herrero, James King, Risa Lander, Rebecca Laremont, Stacy Makris, Coury Mascagni, Marc Nielsen, Robert Pfererman, and Brandon White. The faculty who went to Biloxi, MS include: Susan Waysdorf, Tanya Cooper, Karen Forman, Laurie Morin, and John Brittain.


The "Katrina and Beyond: Disaster Law” course was created as a response to Hurricane Katrina and the legal issues raised by the natural and governmental disaster that nearly destroyed New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast region in August 2005. While progress has been made in the rebuilding of New Orleans, significant parts of the city – mostly residential, once home to poor, largely African-American New Orleanians – remain in ruins, unoccupied by former residents. Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath showed dramatic flaws in the government’s capability and willingness, to respond effectively and judiciously to the needs of people and communities affected by natural and man-made disasters.

The Williams "B” Wardlaw and the Edna Wardlaw Fund provided funding for this service-learning trip.


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