“You need bed,” said Marshall Greene, using sign language. “Pizza want you are.”
“Need be bear monster,” he continued. “Toys for who Mexican.”
These are just some of the things Greene signed as he interpreted an emergency briefing on Hurricane Irma from an emergency center in Manatee County, Florida.
Greene’s brother is deaf, and officials, pressed for time with the hurricane approaching, asked him to step in and help communicate to the deaf community, AL.com reported.
But his wacky sign language interpretation has left the deaf community outraged.
“We were just shocked,” said Jason Hurdich, a Clemson University professor famous for his exciting interpretations of American Sign Language.
“It was horribly unnerving for me,” said Charlene McCarthy with VisCom, a company that often provides interpreters to Manatee County.
Chris Wagner, former president of the National Association for the Deaf, also couldn’t believe his eyes.
Greene is a lifeguard for the county. Deaf people who watched the 3:30 p.m. briefing with county officials on Sept. 8 say little of what he signed made any sense.
“Want you want dog cat,” Greene signed according to one translation of his gibberish posted on YouTube. “20 left bear monster you be.
While it may seem funny, deaf people watching the briefing live were livid. Hurdich told the Bradenton Herald that the incident was “horrible and embarrassing,” especially given the sensitive nature of a hurricane briefing.
“Everyone was talking about it on social media and everyone was shocked and asking the leaders in the deaf community to do something about it,” McCarthy told WPTV.
Hurdich said that governments should always have an interpreter on hand as not having one could be dangerous.
“It’s critical,” Hurdich said, “especially in an emergency situation.”
McCarthy said she was never called to provide an interpreter. She said the footage was hard to watch “knowing I could provide a qualified, certified interpreter.”
The deaf community is now demanding an apology.
Greene’s family told WPTV that he stepped up to help at a crucial time.
The extremely powerful and catastrophic Hurricane Irma ravaged a series of islands in the Atlantic Ocean as it tracked west toward the United States. The hurricane caused 82 deaths, 43 in the Caribbean and 39 in the United States.