To the Editor:

A recent Chronicle of Philanthropy article, “Disaster Giving Goes Mostly to Immediate Relief, Not Prevention or Long-Term Recovery” (January 12), outlines a philanthropic trend that is cause for concern.

Last year was the third-costliest year for disasters on record, with 18 separate weather and climate events in the United States alone, each costing more than a billion dollars. Events such as this week’s devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria and last month’s massive floods in California will only increase in the years to come.

Yet, philanthropy continues to prioritize relief over long-term resilience and preparedness efforts. This giving approach is increasingly likely to leave communities — especially low-income and communities of color — without adequate funding and resources to weather future storms.


Building resilience requires that philanthropic dollars go beyond physical repairs. One area that is too often neglected is the role of legal assistance. Legal experts, and particularly public-interest lawyers, play a critical role in preparing communities for the aftermath of disasters.

These lawyers help residents file FEMA relief applications, navigate insurance-claim disputes, and fight unlawful evictions resulting from situations such as forced evacuations. Effectively supporting areas susceptible to weather and climate-related disasters requires that legal infrastructure is as strong as physical infrastructure. Long before a disaster strikes, investment is needed to get lawyers on the ground.

Relief can get disaster-ravaged areas only so far. Everyone — no matter their financial status — deserves equal access to climate justice.

Linda Anderson Stanley
Senior Manager of the Disaster Resilience Program
Equal Justice Works