Floridians had plenty to worry about during Hurricane Irma — high winds, tidal surges, intense rains, even tornadoes. But they definitely didn’t need to worry about pizza, bears, or monsters, despite what deaf and hard of hearing residents were warned by a sign language interpreter working for Manatee County during a press conference on the incoming storm.
Some of the warnings sounded more like a drunken stab at arranging poetry magnets than any actionable advice. “Help you at that time to use bear big,” went one sentence, according to AL.com. “Pizza want you are. Need be bear monster.” Other vocabulary words reported by deaf viewers included pizza and monsters. Another segment went, “Nice that offense monster. 20 left bear monster you be.”
It’s not quite clear how the presentation went so wrong. The interpreter — a lifeguard named Marshall Greene — apparently has a deaf brother. But VisCom, the professional sign language interpretation outfit usually tapped by Manatee County for such occasions, says Greene doesn’t work for them and doesn’t appear to be terribly fluent in ASL. According to Manatee County officials, Greene was brought on because he seemed better than having no ASL interpreter at all. Of course, given that the press conference turned into a gesticulatory Mad Lib involving bears scarfing pizza during a flood, that assessment seems to have been a little off base.