As the situation in Puerto Rico continues to worsen, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is stating that certain reports about their work on the island are just rumors. Here is what FEMA posted on its site:
Although many Americans are working hard to help their neighbors, during chaotic times, some will always try to take advantage of the most vulnerable. To dispel some of the false rumors circulating on the internet and social media, we are addressing some of the most common themes on this page.
Rumor: FEMA Gas Rationing In Puerto Rico
There are rumors that FEMA is rationing gasoline in Puerto Rico. This is FALSE. (September 23)
FEMA does not have the authority to limit the amount of fuel for public consumption or purchase.
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 adjustors. This is FALSE.
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.
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.
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.