Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hurricane Harvey rumor mill bears watching; alerting impacting family members

You can take it to the bank that rumors and false alarms will surely follow natural disasters faster than a tornado, be more powerful than a magnitude 8 earthquake, and sink deeper than flood waters.

Hurricane Harvey is no different. Here is the response from the U.S. Coast Guard and FEMA on rumors spreading through the Houston area. Anyone with family there should alert their relations to be on the alert for scams and rumors.

Hurricane Harvey rumor control

Posted by LaDonna Davis, Thursday, August 31, 2017
There are a lot of rumors floating around the internet in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Unfortunately, there are also many scams out there trying to take advantage of  people’s good will during this massive flood event. FEMA has put together a rumor control website to fact check many of the rumors and keep the public informed of what’s true, what’s false and how to tell the difference.

Rumor: There are reports of a flyer titled FEMA Field Inspectors needed ASAP and states
Earn $4-5K per week call (214) 284-XXXX between the hours of 9:00am – 11:00am up to August 31, 2017.
This report is TRUE. (August 29/Updated 8/30).
FEMA is hiring field inspectors under a pre-existing contract to assist with surge capacity of field inspections.

Rumor: 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 FALSE. (August 29/Updated 8/30)
Learn more about official FEMA job opportunities to help with the response and review a list of trusted non-profit organizations who are active in disaster response.

Rumor: There are reports of people impersonating Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
special agents in Texas.
This report is TRUE. (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.

Rumor: There are rumors undocumented immigrants cannot go to a shelter because they will be reported to ICE or CBP.
This rumor 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.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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