Hearing Impaired Community Says Sign Language Interpreter Botched Irma Messages

MIAMI (CBSNewYork) — Outrage was the response when a sign language interpreter in Florida botched the job of translating evacuation orders just before Hurricane Irma came ashore.

As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, emergency evacuation orders were issued across the state of Florida in the critical days and hours leading up to Hurricane Irma.

But Marshall Greene, the man brought in to interpret the urgent message in sign language in Manatee County didn’t get the message across at all.

“When he started signing, I was totally shocked,” Charlene McCarthy said.

Chris Wagner is the former president of the National Association for the Deaf.

“It was obvious to me he wasn’t a professional interpreter right off the bat,” he said.

Instead of crucial emergency information, Greene’s gestures made no sense and conveyed words like ‘pizza’, ‘monster’, and ‘bear.’

County leaders said they were in a pinch and didn’t have time to bring in a certified professional — instead they asked Greene, who is a county staff member, to step in with his basic knowledge.

Greene’s family, including his hearing impaired brother came to his defense.

“He only did what he was told to do, so please leave our family alone,” he said.

Critics said Manatee County put people in danger when they put Greene up to the task.

The hearing impaired community is demanding an apology from Manatee County.

As for Greene, he is also a paramedic who helped in the rescue efforts once the storm hit.

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