In the early hours of the Winston Weaver Fertilizer Plant fire, city officials began sending notifications to the public to evacuate a one-mile radius around the site, but little of that information was available in Spanish.
Just a little over 25 percent of the people in the area surrounding the Winston Weaver fertilizer plant are Hispanic residents. Vivian Perez Chandler is executive director of Asset Building Coalition of Forsyth County and found the lack of early information in Spanish alarming.
Perez Chandler immediately began to think about the community that lives within that one-mile radius. Perez Chandler explained her concern about the situation after "there was no information being shared in a language that they understood and spoke, knowing the gravity of a potential explosion."
She immediately contacted local Spanish-speaking organizations such as Mia magazine, Radio Onda de Amor, Qué Pasa, and Hola Carolina to get the message across. She also emailed the city and began to shadow as a volunteer reporter and interpreter. Perez Chandler says many in the community are worried about their health and there have been few recent updates. For now, Perez Chandler will continue translating items related to the fire, and the city plans to hire a bilingual contractor to translate information for future issues.
This story was produced by a partnership between WFDD and La Noticia. You can read this story in Spanish at La Noticia.
Eileen Rodriguez is a reporter for both WFDD and La Noticia through Report for America, where she covers COVID-19's impact in the Latino Communities.
Periodista de La Noticia y 88.5 WFDD, Eileen Rodríguez reporta el impacto de COVID-19 en la comunidad Latina en Carolina del Norte. Rodríguez es miembro del cuerpo de periodistas de Report for America 2021-2022