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University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law students recently volunteered to assist eastern Kentucky residents impacted by massive flooding that took lives and damaged property in several counties.

Billy Devericks, president of the law school’s Appalachian Law Caucus, organized a donation drive to provide victims of the catastrophic flooding with needed items, including cleaning supplies, toiletries, clothes and bottled water.

In addition, the law school’s Black Law Students Association helped organize students to assist area residents with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) applications. About 13 students signed up, including BLSA members and other students, and they provided pro bono assistance under the supervision of licensed attorneys.

“Eastern Kentucky was hit with historic, unprecedented flooding that left many without homes, cars and, in some cases, family members,” Devericks said. “I am from Knott County, and I have driven through the county, witnessing the devastation throughout the community. It is unlike anything I have ever seen before. Homes are washed away, and cars have been carried by the water and dropped into creeks and trees.”

Devericks worked in conjunction with Dinsmore & Shohl, where he worked over the summer, and the UK Appalachian Studies Program.  The law firm delivered donations from the Huntington and Charleston offices in West Virginia as well as the Lexington office to the law school. Law school students, faculty and staff also contributed.

The UK Appalachian Studies Department organized two truckloads to impacted counties. Devericks rented a truck and delivered donations to two locations in Knott County: Beaver Creek Elementary and Knott County Sportsplex.

“I was very impressed by how much I received from the law students and from Dinsmore,” he said.

Devericks said he wanted to help because being raised in eastern Kentucky made him the person he is today, and he knows some of the residents who lost their homes. The second-year law student said he appreciated the help eastern Kentucky has received from all over the country, even from strangers to the region.

“As a proud Appalachian, I know that our community comes together to help each other in times of need such as this one,” Devericks said.

Tiffanie Tagaloa, a second-year law student and BLSA parliamentarian, said several students went to Whitesburg, Kentucky, in Letcher County, Aug. 4-7 to help eastern Kentucky residents complete FEMA applications online. She said some students also helped with clothing and food drives at a local high school.

“The community was really appreciative of our efforts and welcomed us,” Tagaloa said. “Tyler Ward, our attorney liaison and our main point of contact, is eager to continue our efforts together in the future. The application process is a lengthy one and could take months, being able to provide communities in eastern Kentucky with free legal assistance is going to be crucial to helping them recover what was lost to them. He really wants us to spread the word that a FEMA denial does not necessarily mean that people can’t get assistance. There are still other opportunities for help and a route to appeal a denial.”