NEW YORK – FEMA provides translation and interpretation services in order to reach out and communicate with disaster survivors who speak little or no English. FEMA also has staff and technology to support disaster recovery for those who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or have low vision.
Translations are based on the U.S. Census and other demographic research.
In New York, FEMA’s written translation services allow messaging to be delivered in 25 languages: Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, simplified Chinese, French, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Kirundi, Korean, Malay, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Urdu, Vietnamese and Yiddish. Other languages could be added if the need arises.
For the Hurricane Ida disaster in New York, FEMA also posts news releases and fact sheets in 25 languages on its website, fema.gov. And its telephone interpretation service is able to communicate in 117 languages.
When calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362, those who use Video Relay Service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others should give FEMA the number for that service. Helpline operators are available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Press 2 for Spanish. Press 3 for an interpreter for other languages.
You can visit a Disaster Recovery Center and meet in person with FEMA staff and representatives of other federal and state agencies who can provide information about disaster assistance. FEMA staff are trained in using the interpreter service.
A survivor who may have limited English proficiency will be shown a language identification guide with the phrase “I Speak … ” in 69 languages. Disaster survivors can point to the language they understand, and the FEMA representative can connect to an interpreter who speaks that language.
Disaster survivors who live in the following nine counties are encouraged to apply for disaster assistance: Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, Queens, Richland, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester.