Local News

Efforts under way to help Spanish-speaking residents prepare for Hanna

Posted September 2, 2008 9:44 p.m. EDT
Updated September 2, 2008 11:11 p.m. EDT

— Efforts are under way to help the hundreds of thousands of Spanish-speaking North Carolina residents prepare in case Tropical Storm Hanna affects the state.

Patty McQuillan, a spokeswoman with the N.C. Crime Control and Public Safety office, said work is being done to overcome the language barrier.

“Everybody should be able to know what to do to be safe,” McQuillan said.

The state's Web site that provides emergency numbers and shelters in English has a Spanish equivalent.

McQuillan said that if conditions worsen, a telephone hotline will be established with Spanish speaking operators on standby.

In past ice storms, McQuillan said, the safety message have even been taken from door to door.

“A number of Hispanic speaking people were using charcoal grills inside to keep warm, and so we sent the National Guard out to knock on doors individually,” McQuillan said.

Que Pasa, a North Carolina-based media group that operates a weekly newspaper and two radio stations, is one of a few sources for information in Spanish.

“When something happens, we receive a lot of phone calls,” said Marina Aleman, a regional business manager with the company.

Aleman said it can be a serious problem getting life-saving information to the Spanish-speaking population during a storm. She said some people fear that going for help could mean getting deported.

“There is a lot of people afraid to go to the shelters or talk with police because they have no documents,” Aleman said.