PASADENA, Calif. -- ?Wildfires that raged through Southern California last fall spoke no common tongue, yet needed no translation. Residents whose homes were damaged by wildfire or heavy rainfall in the burn areas speak many languages as they ask for help. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state of California have ears to hear them.
"If you say it," said Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Hall of FEMA, "we understand it."
Hall reminds everyone in Southern California's rich mosaic of cultures and languages to register wildfire and related flooding, mud or debris flow losses with FEMA before 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9, by phone at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or online before midnight Wednesday at www.fema.gov.
FEMA provides on-the-spot translations in more than 170 languages and is accessible to the hearing impaired through (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.
"FEMA and California share a goal of communicating clearly with applicants so we can assist fully," said Hall. "Our disaster workers cover many languages, and we have access to other communication services when we need them."
In addition to telephone registration skills, FEMA workers speak many languages when they go door to door to offer assistance and answer questions. One talented worker who helped California families displaced by wildfires spoke Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Russian, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese in addition to English. Other workers are competent in Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, French, French Creole, German, Spanish and Turkish.? FEMA also can provide American Sign Language interpreters for face-to-face conversations.
Most disaster recovery information for California wildfire recovery is available in Arabic, Cambodian, Chinese, Farsi, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.