AURORA, Ill. – Illinois residents affected by the severe storms and flooding can get help to register for federal disaster assistance in their native language.
Bilingual and multilingual specialists with the FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSATs) began canvassing neighborhoods shortly after the presidential disaster declaration to help American Sign Language (ASL) and non-English speakers understand the registration process.
Fourteen languages, other than English, are being used to communicate assistance information to those who had damages from the severe storms and flooding between April 16 and May 5: Arabic, Chinese, German, Greek, Hindi, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Tagalog, Urdu and Vietnamese. More languages will be added as the need arises. FEMA also has specialists who are fluent in ASL.
FEMA has a “Help After a Disaster” guide available in many languages and alternative formats, including large print and Braille. The brochure, which can be accessed at www.fema.gov/help-after-disaster, explains the FEMA Individual and Households Program and provides guidance on applying for assistance.
FEMA specialists provide information to multilingual media outlets and community groups across the affected areas to get the word out to residents whose primary language is not English.
“One of the main goals during a disaster recovery effort is to get the message out to everyone about the many ways FEMA can help eligible survivors,” said Federal Coordinating Officer W. Michael Moore. “That means bridging all possible communication barriers.”
Multilingual phone operators are available to help non-English speaking survivors register for disaster aid and to answer 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. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services (VRS) can call 800-621-3362.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
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