Emergencies En Español: Is Crisis Information Reaching Houston’s Language-Diverse Communities?

Whether urban or rural, the 12 counties that make up the Houston metro area are increasingly diverse. With thousands of residents who struggle with English, it’s unclear who is making sure all communities get the emergency information they need.

By Elizabeth TrovallApril 9, 2019 9:30 am, , , ,

From Houston Public Media:

As a chemical fire raged in Deer Park a couple weeks ago, county officials gave frequent updates to the community.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo spoke in English and Spanish, the two most commonly spoken languages in the region.

Some praised Hidalgo for her bilingual updates, but in neighboring Chambers County, one of their elected officials took issue. Commenting on Facebook live during her press conference, Commissioner Mark Tice told Hidalgo to speak in English, writing “English this is not Mexico.”

Tice doubled down on his comments afterwards in a Houston Chronicle interview. After widespread backlash, he issued an apology statement.

Considering Tice’s authority, it begs the question: In times of disaster, how does Chambers County communicate with their more than 3,000 residents with limited English?

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