Thanks to the aforementioned Jennings Carney’s ”Partnership Update” via the On The Homefront blog of the Homeland Security Digital Library I learned of an interesting new report from the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and Asian Pacific American Legal Center that found ”immigrant and limited English proficient populations are not fully incorporated in disaster preparedness educational efforts and emergency response plans”.
The press release for the report — “Disaster Preparedness in Urban Immigrant Communities: Lessons Learned from Recent Catastrophic Events and Their Relevance to Latino and Asian Communities in Southern California” – summarizes some of the recommendations to improve the situation:
• A lack of disaster preparedness materials in languages other than English that reflect the
demographics of the service populations.
• A shortage of bilingual staff and volunteers among emergency response crews and nonprofits
that typically do outreach during emergencies.
• That ethnic media outlets are underutilized as important tools for communication with
immigrant and limited English speaking communities.
• Concern that members of the immigrant community will not come forward for assistance for
fear that their status will come into question.
The problem of preparedness in immigrant and other diverse communities should not only be a concern of only the people in those communities. As we have seen, most notably after Hurricane Katrina, our response to disasters is only as strong as the weakest link.