Emergency Response Outreach for non-English Speakers in the South
| 07.06.2010 | 07:15:22 | Views: 3744 | ID:
July 2010: In southern Alabama many shrimping communities along the Gulf Coast are populated by Vietnamese immigrants who do not speak English. Local officials have been working with BP and federal and state authorities to "connect emergency managers with Asian community leaders so they could get to know each other - and each other's needs," Daily Yonder reported. To help, BP recruited Mike Dillabler, "an expert in emergency management and a project director with the Community Foundation of Southern Alabama." Dillaber helped to pair Vietnamese translators with communities who spoke the same dialect so BP "could quickly begin interviewing and training local residents for work related to the spill."
Daily Yonder continued: "Mobile County's current situation is a reminder that the people best positioned to help solve local problems are the ones who live there." Furthermore, Yonder reports, "FEMA realized that too often national, state and even local emergency managers didn't know anyone in their immigrant communities. That inexperience cost time, money - and in some cases, lives. Because of the connections he made for the FEMA project in south Mobile County, Dillaber was immediately able to give BP the names" of immigrant community translators and people who could help.Statistics for the area show that close to 50 percent of the families make less than $25,000 and that 23 percent of families were below the poverty line. One third of Bayou La Batre's population is of Southeast Asian descent - Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian. When Hurricane Katrina struck about 1,000 people lost their homes. "In 2008," Yonder wrote, "recognizing the problems they faced helping Asian residents prepare for, survive and recover from disasters, community leaders in Mobile County set out to forge new relationships with those populations and build trust, so that in the next disaster they would be able to respond more effectively."
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