Hurricane Sandy: Rumor Control

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This is the archived Hurricane Sandy Rumor Control page and is available for historical reference. This page is not actively updated. The purpose of this page during and immediately after the storm was to dispel rumors and provide accurate information. The intended audience included disaster survivors and the general public.

There is a lot of misinformation circulating on social networks regarding the response and recovery effort for Hurricane Sandy. Rumors spread fast: please tell a friend, share this page and help us provide accurate information about the types of assistance available.

Check here often for an on-going list of rumors and their true or false status.


FALSEThere are reports that individuals claiming to be "City Assessment Contractors" assessing houses under the NYC Rapid Repairs and Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program are telling residents throughout Staten Island in New York to provide payment for services provided immediately. These "contractors" are claiming that FEMA will reimburse survivors for assessment costs and guarantee additional cash payments of $10,000 to be used for rapid repairs to their homes. This is FALSE. (November 19)

TRUESTEP or NYC Rapid Repairs assessments are free of charge. They do not provide money to individuals. STEP is meant to provide temporary measures so storm survivors may shelter-in-place in their homes. Remember, all contractors providing assessments are coordinated through your city/county officials and must provide identification prior to viewing your home. Please contact your local officials for more information about the STEP program.

STEP assists State and local government in performing work and services essential to saving lives, protecting public health and safety, and protecting property. In particular, STEP helps restore power, heat and hot water by funding certain emergency measures to residences that could regain power through emergency repairs. STEP can help residents safely remain in their homes pending more permanent repairs.

If you live in the five boroughs of New York City, call 311 to access information about the program. If you live in Nassau County, call 1-888-684-4267. Your county or city will decide what elements of the STEP Program are available for your residence. You can contact them for more information.

Anyone who was impacted by Hurricane Sandy is urged to register for assistance through FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA or going to or (on your mobile device).

Calling 1-800-621-FEMA

TRUEDue to the large volume of calls, individuals trying to register with FEMA may experience long wait times. (November 8)

TRUEWe ask for your patience as FEMA is increasing its capacity at call centers to address long wait times.  For individuals with internet access, you can register with FEMA for disaster assistance by visiting or on your mobile phone.   The websites and 1-800-621-FEMA request identical information.

Cash Cards / Food Stamps

FALSEThere are message boards and traffic on social media sites related to FEMA and/or the American Red Cross distributing cash cards to individuals affected by Hurricane Sandy.  This is FALSE.
(November 5)

TRUEIf you are a survivor in a declared county and have losses other than food, including damage to your home, personal property, or vehicle, please apply for assistance online (, on a mobile device, or over the phone 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

TRUEIf you are seeking additional information about Red Cross assistance, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit

FALSEFood stamps being given out to residents of New York and New Jersey as a part of FEMA assistance. This is FALSE.  (November 3)

TRUEFEMA's Individuals and Households Program does not provide food assistance or a $300 food voucher.  If you have an emergency need for food, please call 211. If you reside in the NYC area, you may find information about food distribution locations by visiting If you are a survivor in a declared county and have losses other than food, including damage to your home, personal property, or vehicle, please apply for assistance online (, on a mobile device, or over the phone 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

Disaster Recovery Centers

TRUEFEMA's Disaster Recovery Centers temporarily closed due to inclement weather. (November 8)

TRUEA Disaster Recovery Center or DRC is a place where individuals seeking information about disaster assistance can speak face-to-face with FEMA personnel to ask questions.  Please note, a Disaster Recovery Center is NOT a shelter and is NOT open 24/7.   If you're looking for a shelter, visit

Some services available at DRC's include:

  • Guidance regarding disaster recovery
  • Clarification of any written correspondence received
  • Housing assistance and rental resource information
  • Answers to questions, resolution to problems and referrals to agencies that may provide further assistance
  • Status of applications being processed by FEMA

To find your nearest DRC:


TRUEThere are reports that FEMA is hiring personnel in New York  This is TRUE.  (November 25)

TRUEThere are full-time, temporary positions currently available. The jobs are wide-ranging, from Community Relations Specialists providing outreach to the disaster-stricken communities, to administrative assistants. For a listing of the positions available, visit  For additional updates, visit the New York Hurricane Sandy page.

FALSEThere are reports that FEMA is paying $1,000 to go to New York and New Jersey to clean up debris.  This is FALSE.  (November 5)

TRUEFor information on how to volunteer and assist with Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, visit

FALSEThere is a spike of traffic related to FEMA hiring cleanup crews in both New York and New Jersey. This is FALSE.  (November 2)

TRUEFor information on how to volunteer and assist with Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, visit


FALSEThere was an inaccurate report on a radio station discussing a tent city for sheltering at Monmouth Park race track in New Jersey.  This is FALSE.  (November 5)

TRUEThere are tents set up at Monmouth Park for first responders and utility and construction workers as a place to rest, take a break and receive food and water.  If you are in need of shelter, visit the American Red Cross FIND OPEN SHELTERS by visiting,


FALSEThere have been recent blog posts and social media traffic expressing that FEMA is out of bottled water.  This is FALSE.  (November 3) 

TRUEWe are providing water to our state partners for distribution.  For New York locations and times of food and water distribution centers and daytime warming centers, visit

FALSEThere have been calls and posts from citizens related to the failure of the Old Bridge Township water system in Old Bridge, New Jersey. This is FALSE.  (November 3)

TRUEThe Old Bridge Municipal Utilities Authority (OBMUA) has reported that the water system is stable and safe and that there are no usage restrictions currently in place.

Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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