Students and staff members at Adelphi University have visited more than 100 restaurants across the Town of North Hempstead to hand out disaster preparedness plans that have been translated to Spanish, Korean, Mandarin and Vietnamese.
The effort is designed to help service industry workers who aren’t native English speakers understand what to do in case of natural disasters or public safety emergencies, officials said. The university partnered with the town in 2016 to have the disaster plans translated and distributed to nail salons and now the effort has expanded to restaurants and hotels.
“During disasters, such as superstorm Sandy, workers in service industries are left vulnerable and need information in their native language to keep their families safe,” said Meghan McPherson, who is coordinating the effort and is assistant director of the Center for Health Innovation at Adelphi. “Context is lost when [the disaster plans] are only available in English.”
McPherson and seven graduate students in the emergency management program have visited 122 restaurants and distributed 502 free copies of the disaster plan, town officials said.
Since starting the effort, Adelphi has handed out 1,660 disaster plans to 482 businesses.
Last Tuesday, McPherson visited the Garden City Hotel to deliver another batch of disaster plans. Hotel benefits coordinator Sabrina McCormack said hotel officials asked for an initial delivery of disaster plans in August and the documents were well received by hotel staff.
“We have such a diverse staff that each person could take these home and share it with everyone in their family,” McCormack said.
The three-page disaster plan encourages people to create an emergency supply kit stocked with one gallon of water per family member for at least three days. The kit should also include a flashlight with extra batteries, three-day supply of food, first-aid kit and a whistle to signal for help, according to the brochures.
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said North Hempstead has residents who don’t speak or read English, and warnings of a disaster can be very frightening for them.
“This initiative has reached out to a vulnerable segment of our population and helped to make them safer,” she said.
Bosworth noted that the town has also translated its disaster plan public service announcement into the four languages, using money from a $7,000 grant from Adelphi.
McPherson said more preparedness plans may be distributed to landscaping companies and carwashes. The town and university may also translate the plans into French Creole, spoken in Haiti, and Tagalog, spoken in the Philippines, she added.