Accurate information can be the difference between life and death during a hurricane. So FEMA has launched a new webpage in an effort to debunk rumors that people might be hearing about Hurricane Irma as the historic storm barrels down on the US mainland.
Natural disasters breed a lot of misinformation. Sometimes it’s fake photos of sharks on the highway. Other times it’s rumors about what parts of a city or county are being evacuated. There have been lots of great Hurricane Irma debunkers already published by news outlets like the Weather Channel, but FEMA is another great source for no-bullshit info.
The agency has so far addressed scams involving clean-up contractors, questions about whether hotels are required to allow people to bring pets (they’re not), and news about fuel shortages (those are sadly true).
For example, here’s the entry on rumors about disaster clean-up and inspections that will be conducted by FEMA after the storm passes:
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 adjustors. 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.
FEMA also has a mobile app that you can download for information on shelters available in the path of Irma. You can also text SHELTER and your zip code to 4FEMA (43362) for shelter information.
Stay safe out there, friends. And do your best to stay informed. Hurricane Irma is on track to be the most destructive storm to ever hit Florida. It was just reported that Irma damaged or completely destroyed a full 70 percent of homes already in St. Maarten. And sadly, Hurricane Jose is right on her heels.