National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15 to recognize and celebrate the culture, achievements, and contributions of the Hispanic community in the United States. From food, to music, to sports, the Hispanic contributions to life in the United States are felt every day across the country.
As a global disaster management consulting firm, Team IEM celebrates the contributions of Latinos to help create a culture of preparedness and increase resilience across the globe.
Orgullo Hispano | Hispanic Pride
Latino contributions have also made an impact in the field of emergency management.
Arturo Arias Suárez, a Chilean engineer and scientist, developed a method for measuring the severity of ground shaking during an earthquake. This method, known as the Arias Intensity (IA), is helpful in determining the likelihood of a landslide.
Dr. Judy Mitrani-Reiser, a Senior Research Scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST),contributes to national programs including the National Construction Safety Team, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program. Mitrani-Reiser is recognized for her integral role in the Surfside building collapse investigations and in her evaluations of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico.
Building Resiliency in the Latino Community
Did you know – Hispanics, especially those with lower incomes, are generally less prepared for disasters? (National Library of Medicine study)
This often leads to an increased vulnerability to damage, longer recovery times, and additional disproportionate effects in comparison to other groups in the United States.
Over 60% of the Latino community is geographically vulnerable by living in states that are more prone to disasters and severe weather (e.g., flooding, extreme heat, pollution), according to a National Defense Resource Council study. The study further pinpoints the following factors that exacerbate Latino impact from disasters:
- health insurance access is more limited among the Latino population,
- immigration status may make Hispanics ineligible for or unlikely to seek disaster assistance, and
- language barriers can prevent access and/or limited understanding of available resources.
In the United States, approximately 20% of our population is Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census. With almost a fifth of our population identifying as Hispanic, and many of them facing higher vulnerability to disasters, the emergency management community should consider the specific needs of the Latino community to better prepare them for, protect them against, and help them recover from disaster.
Making a Difference | Disaster Relief
While there are several nonprofit organizations serving individuals and families following disasters, we would like to highlight the Hispanic Federation for their efforts in delivering relief to Latino communities across the United States.
Through their Unidos program, the Hispanic Federation, in partnership with local organizations, individuals, and businesses created a program to fund over 130 local groups and initiatives across Puerto Rico delivering long-term recovery and resiliency support to families impacted by Hurricanes Irma and María in 2017 and the devastating earthquakes in 2019.
Additionally, the Hispanic Federation launched a COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund, in partnership with the Miranda Family, to support Latino communities. This Fund provides grants to community-based organizations to ensure access to food, cash, testing, housing, education, health care, workforce development, and other vital assistance.
Making a Difference | Team IEM
IEM is committed to helping Hispanic communities become better prepared and more resilient for when disaster strikes.
Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, we encourage Hispanic Americans around the country to increase their disaster preparedness, starting with creating an emergency plan – an easy, no-cost step – and building an emergency kit.
Our blog posts “Preparedness Starts at Home” and “La Preparación Comienza En Casa” provide an English and Spanish account of what steps to take to prepare yourself and your family in case of disasters or emergencies.
This National Hispanic Heritage Month, Team IEM celebrates Hispanic Americans and recognizes their contributions to our nation and the world. IEM stands committed to continue to drive equity at the forefront of disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation to help build stronger, more resilient Latino communities.