Does the number offered in a Facebook post connect to a line to secure FEMA disaster relief to pay for a hotel room? No, that's not true: The number listed is indeed a FEMA number, but it is a helpline for internet problems -- not a number for other assistance.
The claim appears in a post (archived here) where it was published on February 17, 2021. The brief post reads:
FEMA IS PAYING FOR HOTEL ROOMS!!!
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Feb 18 15:10:02 2021 UTC)
The phone number listed in the post referenced by this fact check is a real phone number listed on the www.disasterassistance.gov contact us page -- but it is the number for the Internet Help Desk. The listing states the number is for helping to fix problems with using the FEMA website and account problems:
Contact the Internet Help Desk for help with:
- Access to your account.
- Lost or forgotten user ID, password, or PIN.
- Errors or other site-related problems.
Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
The verified Twitter account for FEMA Region 6 posted a warning about a false phone number, stating that it is a scam and urging people in need to get information from state and local officials:
There is a false phone number being shared with a message about FEMA paying for hotels for Texas Disaster Relief.-- FEMA Region 6 (@FEMARegion6) February 18, 2021
⚠️This is a scam.⚠️
The best information on legitimate sources of help in your area will come from local officials & @TDEM.
Lead Stories reached out to FEMA's news desk by email to ask about this viral rumor. We were pointed to the recent announcement from the FEMA Region 6 office on Twitter, embedded below, and to this February 18, 2021 press release about the severe winter weather impacting the nation. The press release contains no mention of FEMA paying for hotel rooms.
On February 14, 2021, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Texas.
FEMA announced federal emergency aid has been made available to the state of Texas to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in areas affected by a severe winter storm beginning on Feb. 11, 2021 and continuing.
The president's action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts, which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in all 254 Texas counties.
The publicly available information provided by the Texas state emergency management departments describes warming centers and available transportation to those warming centers if needed.
The Texas Department of Emergency Management, @TDEM on Twitter, has a map of where warming centers are located or call 2-1-1.
Over 200 Warming Centers are open across the state of Texas.@TXMilitary is deployed to conduct welfare checks and assist local authorities in helping those in need find a local warming center.-- Texas Division of Emergency Management (@TDEM) February 17, 2021
To find a Warming Center near you visit: https://t.co/vP0T0uSNhZ pic.twitter.com/trUnvU6o22