Hurricane Irma rumor control; FEMA separates fact from fiction

Posted at 2:59 PM, Sep 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-09 15:00:48-04

FEMA has created a Hurricane Irma Rumor Control web page to help you separate fact from fiction.

Below is the list FEMA posted through Saturday: 

Rumor: Pets In Shelters And Hotels

There are reports emergency shelters are required to accommodate pets and service animals belonging to people who have evacuated. This is TRUE. (September 8)

There are also reports hotels are required to accommodate pets for people who have evacuated. This is FALSE. (September 8)

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Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act (Pub. L. 109-308 (2006)) to ensure that emergency operations rescue, care, shelter, and meet the essential needs of household pets and service animals.


Hotels and motels participating do not fall under the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act (Pub. L. 109-308 (2006)). Please call the hotel before you go and ask if pets are permitted.

Hotels must accept service animals and individuals with access and functional needs should check with the hotel to ensure if accessible lodging accommodations are available to meet their needs.

Rumor: High Demand For Fuel In Florida

There are reports there is a high demand for fuel in Florida. That rumor is TRUE. (September 8)

As evacuations take place, the State of Florida advises residents to only take the amount of fuel that you need to get your destination.

The Florida Emergency Operations Center reports that demand in some areas has increased five times above normal levels and some gas stations are experiencing temporary outages. However, the fuel supply chain remains fully intact, and the State of Florida is working to move as much fuel through the system as possible in order to replenish reduced stocks.

Also, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working with its interagency and private sector partners to ensure that fuel continues to remain available throughout the state of Florida. It is also working with the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to assess potential impacts to the oil and gas sector from Hurricane Irma, and ongoing impacts from Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.

Rumor: Disaster Clean-Up And Inspections

There may be reports that disaster survivors should not remove flood-damaged sheetrock, flooring, carpet, etc. until the house is assessed by FEMA or insurance adjusters. This is FALSE. (September 5)

Cleaning up and making temporary repairs to your storm-damaged property will not disqualify you from federal disaster assistance.

Property owners are encouraged to document storm damage to their properties – either with photographs or video – and to then begin cleaning up and making whatever temporary repairs are necessary to make their homes safe and habitable again. Put your health and safety first, take pictures of your damaged home, make repairs to prevent further damage to your property, and keep your receipts to show the inspector.

Scam: Inspections Or Contractor Repairs

There may be reports of FEMA inspectors asking for personal information or charging for services such as damage inspections or contractor repairs. This is a SCAM. (September 5).

Scam artists may pose as government officials, aid workers, charitable organizations, or insurance company employees. Follow these steps:

Do not respond to texts, phone calls or personal requests seeking your personal information. The only time you should provide personal information is during the initial application process for FEMA help or when you initiate contact with FEMA to follow up on an application. FEMA inspectors only require verification of identity.

Ask for identification and don’t be afraid to hang up on cold callers.

Contact government agencies using information posted on their websites or in other official sources.
Don’t sign anything you don’t understand or contracts with blank spaces.

If you suspect fraud, contact the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or report it to the Federal Trade Commission.  

Rumor: FEMA Business Re-Entry List

There may be reports from businesses that a FEMA list exists that permits travel into the disaster areas. If a business is not on the list, they may not do business in the area. This is FALSE. (September 5)

FEMA didn’t create a list like this. Public and business access into the disaster-impacted areas is solely at the discretion of local officials. Some flooded areas are now dry and available for the public to return, including businesses. However, some areas remain under curfew, some areas remain dangerous and inaccessible, and some areas are subject to new evacuation orders.

Before attempting to enter a disaster-impacted area, check with local officials.

Information from FEMA/Department of Homeland Security

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TROPICAL STORM WATCH: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.

TROPICAL STORM WARNING: An announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.

HURRICANE WATCH: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

HURRICANE WARNING: An announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. A hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.