The recent power outages incited by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s have revealed that Humboldt County’s emergency alert system isn’t available in languages other than English.
So far, there have been two power outages, the first happened on Oct. 8 and the second on Oct. 26. During those times, PG&E’s website offered information and updates. Although the website has options for Chinese and Spanish, during power outages, people may not have access to the internet so checking their website isn’t always an option.
At the moment, the Office of Emergency Services has said that although they do have an emergency notification system, it is not available in other languages, but they have thought about adding other languages.
Some of those who don’t speak English found out about the power outages through word of mouth.
“During the blackout [on Oct. 8] I ran into the owner of Valley Azteca at Harbor Freight trying to buy a generator,” community member, Lucy Salazar said. “He asked me ¿Qué está pasando? He did not know exactly what was happening or why.”
What about HSU?
Humboldt State University has its own emergency notification system for students, staff and faculty, but it’s also only in English. Christina Koczera, HSU’s Emergency Management Coordinator, said that the reason that emergency emails and texts are sent in English is because most students understand it.
Most emergency texts sent by HSU are manually typed out and since there isn’t always a translator available, it’s difficult to send them out in multiple languages. A few messages are preloaded in order to quickly spread information but the school has considered preloading messages in other languages.