Don’t Believe The Hype!: FEMA Helps Dispel Hurricane Harvey Rumors

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— FEMA.gov

There is a lot of misinformation circulating online and because rumors spread fast please tell a friend, share this page, and help us provide accurate information. Check here often for an on-going list of rumors and their true or false status.

Rumor: Fuel Shortages

There are rumors that the fuel shortages in Texas are due to either FEMA blocking sales or fuel being committed elsewhere. This is FALSE. (September 1)

Gasoline Stations – Fuel Shortages

It is true that there are some fuel shortages in Texas due to the impact of Hurricane Harvey. Gasoline retailers obtain gasoline supplies based upon the nature of their relationship with their suppliers.  There are three primary fuel supply arrangements:  1) major oil company owned and operated, 2) branded independent retailer who sign a supply contract with a major oil company and 3) an unbranded independent retailer (who purchases gasoline from the open market).   With tight supplies in the region, gas stations that do not have a supply contract will have fuel shortages.  Supply contracts will be met first before gasoline is placed in the open market. Sporadic increases in demand will increase consumption and continue to aggravate local distribution challenges.

Colonial Pipeline Operations

Colonial Pipeline east of Lake Charles, LA is operating intermittently when refinery and terminal product is available to fill the line.  The portion of the pipeline between Houston and Hebert remains down and Colonial is estimating returning this portion of the line to service this Sunday. The lack of fuel is caused by a combination of factors including: refinery damage and shutdowns, damage to fuel terminals and the closure of crude oil ports in the region

Strategic Petroleum Reserve

In response, the Department of Energy (DOE) authorized the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to negotiate and execute emergency exchange agreements authorizing a total of up to 4 million barrels of sweet crude oil and up to 300,000 barrels of sour crude oil to be drawn down from SPR’s West Hackberry  and Bayou Choctaw sites. In addition, DOE and EPA have issued waivers to Colonial which will allow it to accept more product into its pipeline. DOE is continuing to monitor the situation, and is prepared to take additional steps to ease fuel shortages. More information about DOE’s response can be found in its Hurricane Harvey Situation Reports.

Rumor: Hiring ($4-5k Per Week)

There are reports of a flyer titled FEMA Field Inspectors needed ASAP and states Earn $4-5K per week call (214) 284-XXXX for instructions on how to apply between the hours of 9:00am – 11:00am up to August 31, 2017. This is True. (August 29/Updated 8/30)

Scam: Hiring ($2k Per Week)

There are reports stating FEMA is looking to employ 1,000 people offering to pay $2,000/week for 90 days and the phone number to call is 888-776-XXXX. This report is a Scam. (August 29/Updated 8/30)

Rumor: Flood Insurance (September 1 Deadline)

There are reports individuals must file a flood insurance claim before Friday, September 1 because a new Texas law goes into effect that day and all claims filed after Sept. 1 would be negatively impacted. This is FALSE. (August 30)

  • Texas State “House Bill 1774,” passed by the 85th Texas Legislature, does not affect flood insurance policies or claims. Flood insurance is provided through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which was created by Congress through the passage of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The NFIP is a federal program subject to federal law, so this new Texas state law will have no impact on NFIP policyholders.
  • For information on how this legislation will impact other types of insurance claims in Texas, please reach out to the Texas State Insurance Commissioner’s office.
  • NFIP flood insurance policyholders with flood damage should file their insurance claims as soon as possible to begin their recovery process, but there is no benefit or penalty in filing before or after September 1, 2017. Learn more about how to file your flood insurance claim.

Rumor: Shelters & ID Check

There are rumors undocumented immigrants cannot go to a shelter because they will be reported to ICE or CBP. This  is False. (August 27)

  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have stated that they are not conducting immigration enforcement at relief sites such as shelters or food banks. In the rare instance where local law enforcement informs ICE of a serious criminal alien at a relief site that presents a public safety threat, ICE will make a determination on a case-by-case basis about the appropriate enforcement actions. More information is available at U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) joint statement. The Federal Government strongly encourages all persons to follow the guidance of local officials and seek shelter regardless of their immigration status.
  • Most shelters are managed by local communities, the Red Cross, and other voluntary agencies. American Red Cross’ humanitarian mission is to feed, shelter, and provide other forms of support without regard to race, religion, or citizenship status. The Red Cross will not ask people to show any form of identification in order to stay in their shelters. In order to receive some Red Cross services, such as meeting with a caseworker to facilitate disaster recovery, they will need to verify a person’s pre-disaster address. For people who don’t have government-issued identification, the Red Cross can usually do this through alternative means, such as a copy of a utility bill.

Scam: Flood Insurance Premiums (Robo-Calls)

There are reports Texas residents are being told (via robo-call) their flood premiums are past due and in order to have coverage for Hurricane Harvey they need to submit a payment immediately to a website. This is a SCAM. (August 30)

Insurance companies and agents selling flood insurance policies do not use this process to communicate with customers about their flood insurance policies.  In fact, if your payment is past due, your insurance company will send you several pieces of mail 90, 60, and 30 days before the policy expires.

If you receive a call regarding your flood insurance policy:

  • Hang up the phone. Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator or any other key to take your number off the list. Just hang up.
  • Then contact your insurance agent or insurance company immediately to verify the information.
  • Or call 1-800-638-6620 if you have a policy with NFIP Direct

Visit our resource page on how to file your flood insurance claim.

Scam: Inspections Or Contractor Repairs

There may be reports that FEMA charges for services such as damage inspections or contractor repairs. This is a SCAM. (August 27).

Follow the below steps as scam artists may pose as government officials, aid workers, charitable organizations, or insurance company employees:

  • 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.

Scam: Impersonations – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)

There are reports of people impersonating Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents in Texas. This is a SCAM. (August 29).

  • Real Homeland Security Investigations officials wear badges labeled “special agent,” which members of the public can ask to see and verify. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers with Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) also wear badges labeled with ERO Officer. They also carry credentials with their name and organization. Members of the public who receive such visitors should ask to see these properly labeled badges, and their credentials.
  • In addition, these officers and special agents would be conducting hurricane relief operations with other local law enforcement agencies. Also note that during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not conducting immigration enforcement operations in the affected area.
  • To report suspicious activity or individuals you believe are impersonating ICE officials, members of the public should immediately contact ICE toll free at 866-347-2423.

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