Immigrant and Refugee Emergency Preparedness

Chris Voss wears glasses. As his eyes get worse and his prescriptions get stronger, he keeps those old pairs.

“I have 10 pairs of old glasses, with old prescriptions,” he said. “But they still work.”

Voss, director of Emergency Management at Multnomah County, spends a lot of time thinking about how the county will respond to, and recover from a major disaster.

That’s because most people will survive even a big Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.   

“People think so much about the first four minutes of shaking,” he said. “We want people to think about what happens when the shaking stops.”

Multnomah County offers free preparedness workshops in many languages, including this class in Vietnamese

There are a lot of things people can do to prevent injuries and to prepare their families. The more people prepare and are able to take care of themselves and their loved ones, the more emergency personnel can focus on those who need them most.

Oregon is due for a big earthquake. That could mean tomorrow; or in 100 years or more.

Preparing yourself, your family, and your community for an emergency makes sense. An Earthquake is the biggest emergency that people expect will happen in Oregon, but families should prepare for other problems too. The same plan and emergency supplies could come help in all kinds of situations, from severe weather to a chemical spill.

Multnomah County's Office of Emergency Management organizes free workshops for communities in their requested languages. To find out more, contact division chief Alice Busch: 503-988-6552 | 


Extreme Heat

Take Care: Multnomah County published this poster with symptoms  of overheating and tips to stay cool (Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Somali, Korean and Vietnamese)

Vulnerable:  the CDC publishes information for seniors, people with chronic health problems, low-income families, outside workers and athletes (Spanish).


Other Resources

Basic Preparedness: The City of Seattle publishes these simple materials in 19 languages.

Listos!: Washington County offers the state's only emergency preparedness class in Spanish. This workshop is broken down into five 3-hour trainings held once a week. Participants earn their certification in First Aid and CPR. Contact Cynthia Valdivia at

Red Cross: From heat waves to flooding to landslides to fires,, this mainstay of emergency response has resources in multiple languages.

Many Emergencies: The federal office on Limited English Proficiency maintains a list of resources in many languages.

Many More Emergencies: This nonprofit group of universities publishes emergency preparedness materials on a range of topics, in more than 20 languages.

Religious Literacy:  The University of Southern California Center for Religion and Civic Culture published a Field Guide and a Religious Literacy Primer for crises, disasters and public health emergencies.

Cultural Literacy: FEMA offers a free web class on Religious and Cultural Literacy in Disasters

Cultural Competence: FEMA published a simple two-page tip sheet on things to consider when working in culturally-diverse communities.

Right Response: The Federal office of Health and Human Services offers a free online course focusing on how to provide a culturally-appropriate services during a disaster.

Mental Health: FEMA teamed up with the  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to publish an in-depth guide on providing culturally-appropriate mental health services following a disaster.

Cruz Roja:  The American Red cross maintains a Spanish-language website and downloadable phone application.

After a Disaster: FEMA publishes this guide on where families can get help after disaster strikes -- in 24 languages.

Insurance: The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes published this Spanish-language primer in how to ensure one's home and property in anticipation of a natural disaster.