Before Hurricane Irma made landfall last week, millions of Floridians, among other Americans, panicked to prepare for a potential Category 4 or 5 hurricane.
But as officials tried to convey accurate and frequent updates to its citizens, some people were left in the dark, namely the deaf community of Manatee County, Florida.
On September 8, as county officials were updating its residents on the dire situation of Irma, those fluent in American Sign Language, quickly noticed the county’s interpreter was communicating, well, utter nonsense.Screenshot/Facebook
Instead of relaying the evacuation message to residents, the interpreter, according to the Bradenton Herald, signed things such as:
“Help you at that time too use bear big.”
So, who was this “interpreter”?
Manatee County spokesman Nick Azzara explained that Marshall Greene is a Manatee County lifeguard who has a brother who’s deaf. Azzara told the Bradenton Herald that the county wasn’t prepared with an ASL interpreter, and instead of having no one to communicate to the hearing impaired citizens, they asked Greene to do it.
County officials told WFLA they were “in a pinch,” but as soon as Greene began signing Charlene McCarthy — whose company provides interpreters for the county — said she “knew something went horribly wrong.”
She told WFLA:
“It was horribly unnerving for me. To watch that, knowing I could provide a qualified, certified interpreter.”
WFLA reported that as soon as Greene began signing words like “pizza,” “monster,” and “bear,” members of the deaf community were infuriated the county would let something like this happen during an emergency situation.
According to reports, the county has since filed for an ASL interpreter from the state, but people were already outraged:Manatee County, Florida/Facebook Manatee County, Florida/Facebook Manatee County, Florida/Facebook Manatee County, Florida/Facebook Manatee County, Florida/Facebook Manatee County, Florida/Facebook
Greene’s family has since taken to his defense, saying their son was only doing what the county asked of him. His father told WFLA:
“He can’t expect to communicate something he doesn’t know.”
The deaf community is still demanding, and as of Sunday morning, awaiting an apology from county officials, but it’s unclear as to when and if they will get one.