Main Content

FEMA Speaks Many Languages

Release date: 
November 20, 2012
Release Number: 

NEW YORK – The Federal Emergency Management Agency is focusing efforts on reaching survivors in the diverse communities that make up the 13 New York counties designated for federal individual assistance resulting from the major disaster declaration for Hurricane Sandy. FEMA’s multilingual Community Relations teams are connecting with survivors who otherwise may miss important recovery information if it is not in the language they speak and understand.

The teams are canvassing Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester county neighborhoods to provide information to multilingual communities impacted by the storm.

With informative materials in English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Turkish, Urdu, Yiddish, Punjabi Korean, Russian, Tagalog and Vietnamese, the FEMA teams are providing survivors with valuable information about registering with FEMA and, if eligible, getting local, state and federal assistance. Information in Braille also is provided for those who are blind or have low vision.

“One of our primary goals is to get the message out about the many forms of assistance available,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Michael F. Byrne. “That means reaching survivors in all affected communities. Regardless of language or other needs, the message remains the same – FEMA is here alongside survivors, businesses, local governments, voluntary organizations, the state and other federal agencies, as we work together to help New York recover and rebuild.”

Multilingual specialists also maintain contact with media outlets whose audiences consist mainly of non-English speaking readers, listeners or viewers and whose programming is in languages other than English. In New York, more than 500 outlets have been identified and are being contacted by FEMA field media specialists to share resources for multilingual audiences. 

FEMA has translated its English language booklet, “Your Guide to Disaster Assistance Programs,” into more than 12 languages. The document provides in-depth information to help disaster assistance applicants understand eligibility requirements for federal disaster aid programs. FEMA teams are distributing the booklets in affected areas and at disaster recovery centers throughout the 13 designated counties in New York. “Help after a Disaster”  is available in العربية Arabic, 中文 Chinese, Français French, Ελληνικά Greek, Kreyól Ayisyen Hatian-Creole, עברית Hebrew, हिन्दी Hindi, Italiano Italian, 日本語 Japanese, 한국어 Korean, Laotian Laotian, Hmong Mong, Polski Polish, Português Portuguese, Pусский Russian, Español Spanish, Tagalog Filipino, ภาษไทย Thai, اردو  Urdu, TiếngViệt Vietnamese and  ייִדיש Yiddish.

Multilingual phone operators are available to help non-English speaking survivors register for disaster aid and to answer their questions. After dialing the FEMA helpline, 800-621-3362, or TTY 800-462-7585, callers should choose Option 2 for Spanish and Option 3 for other languages.

Survivors in any of the 13 designated New York counties may register online at or with a smartphone or tablet by visiting or by downloading the FEMA app. Registration is also available by phone at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 800-462-7585 for people who have a speech disability or hearing impairment. Those who use 711 Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.

For information about FEMA programs in multiple languages, visit

Last Updated: 
November 21, 2012 - 15:03
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
Related Disaster: