“Any rumors you may have heard that TECO is intentionally cutting off power to customers are false,” reads a marquee on the home page for TECO Energy, which services 725,000 residents in the Tampa Bay area.
Rumors that electric companies were planning to cut off power in order to force people to evacuate are just one of many hoaxes circulating throughout the state during the havoc being wreaked by superstorm Hurricane Irma.
“Duke Energy is not de-energizing services in any area to expedite evacuations,” said a spokesperson for the power company, which also services customers in the Tampa area.
More rumors related to Hurricane Irma have been circulating the internet, ranging from the mild to the outlandish:
However, some rumors are all-too-serious, and law enforcement agencies have been working to combat those rumors and incorrect beliefs that could put people’s lives at risk:
The rumor mill has gotten so out of control that FEMA has set up a website aimed at separating Hurricane Irma fact and fiction.
Here are some highlights from the FEMA rumor control page:
- Evacuation shelters are required to take in pets. TRUE
- Undocumented immigrants are not welcome at shelters. FALSE
- FEMA keeps a list of businesses permitted to re-enter disaster areas. FALSE
- FEMA officials will never ask you for money or personal information beyond identity verification. TRUE
- You should not remove flood-damaged housing materials until FEMA or an insurance adjuster inspects them. FALSE