Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Interpreters Provided?

I'm glad that they provide a TTY number. I hope it really works and that competently-trained people are answering the TTY calls.

In the meantime, I wonder if certified interpreters are provided at these sites mentioned below. I sure hope so.

Approximately 10% of Americans have a degree of hearing loss. A smaller percentage out of that are Deaf with ASL as their first language. Now, apply that % to the population of Katrina victims and people displaced by the hurricane. Do the math, and the number of Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing people is high enough to warrant competent interpreters at each Disaster Recovery Center site.

I also wonder which agencies that focus on serving Deaf clients have been formallly identified by FEMA as service provideres for Deaf people who're Katrina victims - in each state (i.e., Texas, Louisana, Florida). For example, New York Society for the Deaf provided Project Liberty services to the Deaf community (as identified and designated by FEMA and the state) to help Deaf NYCers, their friends and families deal with the aftermath of 9/11.

I also want to know how FEMA is ensuring access for displaced Deaf people who have been moved or sent to other states. Did they already have such deaf and interpreter agencies on list for each state as part of emergency preparedness and emergency management plans?



AUSTIN – To help meet the ongoing needs of those who suffered damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Governor’s Division of Emergency Management opened Disaster Recovery Centers. The centers provide a single location where people are able to talk face-to-face with recovery specialists.

There are two ways to begin the application process. People may call FEMA’s toll-free number, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for those with speech or hearing impairment. Both numbers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice. Or apply online at

Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, minor home repair and other serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance or other sources. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also are available for residential and business losses not covered by insurance.

Representatives from local, state and federal agencies, and voluntary organizations, will staff the Disaster Recovery Centers. Visitors can:

• Inquire about the status of their application.
• Receive referrals for temporary rental assistance resources.
• Get help completing SBA low-interest loan applications for homeowners, renters or business owners;
• Receive information about different types of state and federal disaster assistance.
• Receive referrals to American Red Cross and other voluntary organizations to help with immediate unmet needs.
• Learn cost-effective measures to reduce the impact of future flooding or disaster losses.

These federal and state Disaster Recovery Centers are open, or will open as noted, until further notice:

Greater Austin Area DRC
825 East Rundberg Lane
Suite E
Austin (Closed on Sundays)
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Kelly Air Force Base
809 Davy Crockett Road
Bldg. 171
San Antonio
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Amon Carter Exhibit Hall
3401 Burnett Tandy Drive
Fort Worth
Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Island Community Center
4700 Broadway
Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Kelly Air Force Base
809 Davy Crockett Rd
Bldg. 1537
San Antonio
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Greater Houston Area DRC
6059 South Loop
Opening Wed. Sept. 28
Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Dallas Convention Center
650 Griffin Street
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.