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National Weather Service pushes to provide more information in Spanish

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Spanish-speaking population is growing in central Indiana, so the National Weather Service at Indianapolis is pushing to get more information out in their language.

According to the U.S. Census, more than 400,000 Hispanic people reside in Indiana, and Spanish is the second most-spoken language in the state.

Sam Lashley, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, told News 8 on Tuesday, “It doesn’t matter what language you speak, we’re in the business of protecting life and property.”

The National Weather Service in Indianapolis wants to share lifesaving information with all communities. “It’s a work in progress because it’s new. We’re experimenting, trying to figure this process out,” Lashley said.

They’re focused on posting in Spanish on social media, including Facebook. They depend on at least two staff members to get it done.

Lashley said, “There’s several hundred thousand people across the state that are of Spanish heritage, Spanish-speaking, and it’s an underserved vulnerable population, and the weather service right now, that’s a big push for us is to identify all underserved communities and populations.”

Lashley says they’ll post a message in English followed by a translated version in Spanish.

He says they’ve been met with some challenges.

“Right now, it’s confined to these bigger storms where the populations are at risk and, you know, we haven’t had a lot of winter weather here over the last three to four years in Indiana, so anytime we can get that information out, it’s going to be helpful and keep people safe,” Lashley said.

The weather service also says it’s faced some racist remarks on Facebook because of their Spanish-language posts.

Lashley said, “I just hope everyone sees it for what it is. We’re trying to reach as many people as possible. We’re just looking again at diverse community. If you’re in central Indiana, you’re a citizen; you’re visiting, you’re passing through, we just want you to be safe and understand our information.”

The government agency says it’s planning to reach to out to local organizations to expand its work.