Graduation Date

Fall 12-18-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Emergency Preparedness

First Advisor

Sharon Medcalf, PhD


The language barrier may severely restrict how severe weather warnings are received and responded to by Hispanics/Latinos in rural Nebraska, a state well known for frequent, volatile weather patterns. Nearly 50% of Spanish speaking Nebraskans rated their English abilities as “less than very well” (US Census Bureau, 2013). The estimated number of Hispanics/Latinos with limited English proficiency (LEP) in Nebraska equates to approximately 57,000 people. This thesis attempted to assess English ability and how severe weather warnings were received and responded to by LEP Hispanics/Latinos in rural Nebraska. This was accomplished by analysis of data from completed optional Spanish or English surveys. This study was exploratory in nature and conducted among a convenience sample of Hispanics/Latinos from five rural health departments across Nebraska. The effects of limited English proficiency revealed multiple modes of media were utilized to confirm severe weather warnings.

The results of this study support the notion of needed language and culturally specific severe weather warnings for non-English speaking, or limited English proficient residents. The use of multiple modes of media to confirm severe weather in this study, may in fact delay response times for mitigating actions, which could result in potentially disastrous situations. This study demonstrates a need for more robust research on how non-English speaking residents in Nebraska receive risk communications, not only for severe weather, but all emergent notifications.