Catastrophic Events ...

Catastrophic Events & Major Claims

Real-world experience, proven national leadership, full service

With a legacy of natural disaster-related legal experience stretching as far back as Hurricane Camille in 1969, Butler Snow is a national leader in legal work for catastrophic event and disaster-recovery programs. With Hurricane Katrina, many associate its massive destruction with only the Gulf Coast, but this multi-billion-dollar disaster directly impacted numerous other states and indirectly impacted the entirety of the United States. In its aftermath, Butler Snow was there. We handled virtually anything our clients required during the long-haul process of response and recovery. In addition, Butler Snow attorneys routinely respond to and assist clients with industrial and pipeline catastrophes, including explosions, pipeline and chemical releases, and other workplace accidents. Butler Snow’s expertise includes managing emergency response, evidence preservation, and related regulatory investigations.

It was this deep cross-discipline experience that prompted us to develop a 30-lawyer response team specifically to handle disaster events. We provide immediate full-service support—with no experience gaps and the bench strength to handle any natural or man-made disaster.

Butler Snow’s team includes members of our litigation, insurance, investigations and white-collar crime, environmental, health, and tax incentives and credit markets groups, as well as our crisis communications team. Some individual members also have extensive disaster-related experience within government.

Our team’s boots-on-the-ground response and recovery experience, along with our firm’s strong collaborative culture, accomplish one thing—swift, cost-effective success for our clients.

For example, our advanced preparation and our proprietary protocols recently provided full-service support during the 2016 Texas wind-hail catastrophe, a series of storms that resulted in losses exceeding $5 billion.

Our team has an action plan in place; our roles are defined; and we can respond immediately.


Preparation is key and we often provide pre-disaster counsel to our clients. For example, we assist with public relations responses, coordination with government officials, and many other critical first steps specific to our clients’ needs. We also help many clients develop their own in-house protocols—long before disaster strikes—so they are prepared to respond.

Our experience confirms that such early preparation helps mitigate post catastrophe trauma, as well as many of the ensuing complexities and costs.


We’ve been there many times, so we instinctively know how to successfully support disaster relief efforts in the moment. Our team members have established relationships with key governmental agencies, such as FEMA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the Departments of Investigation (DOI), and numerous state and local agencies.

We understand the critical nature of a careful, measured response to any disaster. For example, we provide representation for immediate claims-related issues, including assisting our clients in managing regulatory and governmental issues. We also move immediately to seize public financing options to bring financial relief as quickly as possible. And we know how to help minimize or resolve disaster-related environmental issues.

Disaster events require a proactive approach to meet the anticipated challenges of a disaster-stricken community and coordinate with local, state, and federal entities to support disaster relief efforts. We know what to do and we know how to do it in the most expedient manner.


While knowledgeable, measured responses during the planning and response stages of a disaster can reduce recovery-phase complications, disasters always leave behind a multitude of complex disputes, urgent finance needs, complicated environmental matters, and other issues.

Our litigation and appellate attorneys have deep disaster experience. For example, major insurance carriers, including those participating in the Write-Your-Own (WYO) program, trust us to help them not only make solid business decisions, but provide effective fiduciary counsel to prevent overpayment of claims. We have the litigation experience and talent to ensure that our clients’ full fiduciary responsibilities are met.

Attorneys in our Economic Development and Tax Credits Practices are experienced in navigating the types of disaster relief currently available, as well as lobbying to secure legislative changes and amendments to provide for additional disaster relief. We have particular expertise using New Markets Tax Credits and bond allocations to provide disaster relief.

We also have expertise working with governmental and regulatory agencies to respond to disaster-related environmental clean-up issues, including the EPA, FEMA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. We’ve represented many industries regarding EPCRA and CERCLA release reporting requirements, which are highly complex and unforgiving.

For decades, our clients have trusted our multi-disciplinary team to respond to some of the most catastrophic disasters of our time.



  • During the series of 2016 wind-hail disasters in Texas, the firm was able to respond quickly on all fronts due to our existing disaster-response team and an established protocol for gathering information, preparing for public relations responses, and handling investigations and litigations. In total, those storms were responsible for losses exceeding $5 billion.
  • As national counsel for major insurance carriers, Butler Snow handled hundreds of Write-Your-Own (WYO) flood-related lawsuits. In these cases, the firm’s commitment included ensuring that our clients’ full fiduciary responsibilities were met.
  • After Super Storm Sandy (New York and New Jersey), we represented two major insurance carriers involving more than 300 federal lawsuits filed under the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”).
  • In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with $1 billion of New Markets Tax Credits specially allocated to the Gulf Opportunity Zone, the firm was on the forefront of the redevelopment effort to use New Markets Tax Credits in conjunction with other federal, state, and local financial incentives.
  • During the Katrina recovery process, we represented the first governmental entity in the country to use the FEMA disaster recovery arbitration process, winning a $6.9 million Public Assistance award for the Bay St. Louis—Waveland School District in 2010.
  • The American Lawyer recognized John England as “deal maker of the year” for his work accelerating the issuance of quasi-governmental bonds to finance the reconstruction of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.
  • Trudy Fisher served on Governor Haley Barbour’s executive team as director of the Mississippi environmental agency. During her tenure, Fisher was directly involved in a number of natural and man-made disasters. She was a part of the recovery and rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina, which included over $650 million of water and sewer projects in the impacted areas. Governor Barbour also tapped Fisher to lead the emergency response and restoration efforts after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She was involved in direct communications with the White House; state leadership for Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida; responsible parties; and numerous federal agencies. These experiences, as well as leading the environmental response efforts during the flooding of water and sewer infrastructure in the Mississippi River Flood of 2011, provided Fisher “boots on the ground” experience for finding solutions under the pressures of a disaster and recovery. Since returning to private practice, Fisher has continued to be involved in the public and private sectors disaster response and recovery efforts.