An outsized Hurricane Florence early on Thursday crept closer to the U.S. East Coast, packing tropical storm-force winds across hundreds of miles that threaten the region with potentially catastrophic flooding and torrential rain.
An outsized Hurricane Florence early on Thursday crept closer to the U.S. East Coast, packing tropical storm-force winds across hundreds of miles that threaten the region with potentially catastrophic flooding and torrential rain. Reuters

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that they have created a website to stop fake news from spreading as Hurricane Florence creeps closer to landfall.

The agency has launched the page called 'Hurricane Florence Rumor Control' which will be updated regularly. As of now, the page includes seven false stories and the authority updated last news on Thursday, September 13 at around 2.35 pm.

On Twitter, FEMA stated that how difficult it is to stop spreading the false information during a natural calamity.

As per the agency the rumour's list includes reports, stating that beach sand should be used of sandbags distribution sites are out of the sand. While stating the fact, FEMA said, "Local emergency management in coastal areas is warning residents not to use beach sand for sandbagging. Residents should NOT be heading toward the beach. Also, sand at the beach is a vital barrier, acting as the first line of defence against the storm."

The news false story stated, the agency has a role in enforcing evacuation orders. In reply, FEMA stated that they don't "have authority to issue or enforce evacuation orders. Only local and state public safety and emergency management officials have authority for issuing and enforcing voluntary and mandatory evacuations."

Next hoax news claimed that the agency has enough commodities on the ground in preparation for Hurricane Florence and in response FEMA wrote that the private sector is the first source of supplying goods in affected areas but, if they face any issue with the distribution then state, local and voluntary agencies will provide needed supplies.

"FEMA, working in coordination with those officials, will augment state and local resources as needed and requested. At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of litres of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centres throughout the United States and its territories," the agency added.

"FEMA is forward staging meals, water, cots, blankets and other resources at Incident Support Bases in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia, and West Virginia to supplement the needs following Hurricane Florence. The quantity of supplies on hand will fluctuate as supplies are continuously moving," they said.

When another fake news arouses about the budget of EPA, the agency stated the straightforward fact, which is "EPA does have the budget and the staff to respond to natural disasters. The budget increased over the last two fiscal years by $5 million."

FEMA also clarified another fund related rumour, which stated that almost $10 million was diverted from the agency's Hurricane relief fund to US immigration and customs enforcement. While addressing the real fact the agency said "Funding was diverted from FEMA's operational budgets for travel, training, public engagement and information technology. The amount diverted is less than 1 percent of FEMA's annual operating budget."

There were rumours about service animals, who were not allowed in shelter but, FEMA said this news is false, as on the basis of Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, "service animals, which are individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability, are authorized to relocate to survivor shelters."

Some reports also claimed that at the time Hurricane Florence, all emergency shelters and hotels are required to accommodate pets for people, who have evacuated. But, the FEMA stated that service animals are not pets, all private business like hotels don't allow pets to get in and not all the shelters accept pets. FEMA said, "Check local media or contact your local emergency management agency for shelters that do allow pets. Pet-friendly shelters may have requirements and restrictions for pets. Check their requirements before arriving at the site."

They also added that if anyone needs more tips on evacuating with their pet, then they may visit www.ready.gov/animals.

However, this is not the first time that the fake news market took the opportunity of this natural disaster to spread false stories. In 2017 when Hurricane Irma hit Florida, the social media users were fooled by an online hoax news that claimed Irma was a Category 6 hurricane, which supposed to have winds greater than 174 or 180 mph.