Local News

Fayetteville Reaches Out To Hispanics During Storm Preparation

Posted September 16, 2003

— There is a special push to help Hispanics and Latinos prepare for Isabel.

Last December, some Latin-Americans died during the North Carolina ice storm because they did not know the "dos and don'ts" of severe weather.

More than 100,000 Hispanics live in central North Carolina. As Isabel approaches, people are hoping the language barrier does not once again cost lives.

Fayetteville resident Isaias Campos has never lived through a hurricane.

"I am nervous because never have I been in a hurricane zone," Campos said.

Isabel could be his first. He said he is prepared, but many Hispanics are not.

Folks at the Hispanic-Latino Center in Fayetteville are calling more than 100 Spanish-speaking families and explaining what to do if the hurricane hits.

"Frankly, some of them do not have televisions, so we need to get the word out to them," the center's Janis Holden-Toruno said.

And while the center alerts families one by one, others reach out in mass.

The local Univision station, Univision 40, has scrapped its normal lineup to get the word out. Normally, they have a half-hour of network news. But they are pre-empting that coverage with a special hurricane program that they prepare in the station.

One of the station's well-known voices, Roberto Vengochea, writes updates while remembering his own experience during Hurricane Andrew.

"My house was destroyed completely," he said.

State officials are also making sure Spanish-speaking people are not overlooked.

"The key thing we're outreaching to them on, with our colleagues in health and human services, is getting that three-day survival kit to them in Spanish," said Ken Taylor of the Department of Emergency Management.

For Campos, the outreach has made a difference. His English may not be perfect, but his hurricane plan might well be.


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