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Posted: September 11, 2017

Hurricane Irma aftermath: Beware disaster relief donation scams, official says


In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr is warning consumers to be on the lookout for scams.

>> Read more trending news 

“Seeing or hearing about the devastation caused by a natural disaster evokes our sympathies and our desire to help those affected,” Carr’s office wrote in a news release Monday night. “Unfortunately, scammers realize this and do not hesitate to take advantage of people’s heightened emotions. They may pose as reputable charities soliciting donations and target consumers through unsolicited emails, telemarketing calls or by knocking on their doors. They often create legitimate-looking websites that have similar names as actual charities, sometimes even using the actual logo of a reputable relief organization.”

Below is a list of recommendations to make sure you are donating to a legitimate charity:

  • Don’t respond to unsolicited emails and avoid clicking on any links they contain. Only open attachments from senders you know and trust.
  • Don’t give out money over the phone unless you have initiated the call and are confident that the charity is legitimate.
  • You can research a charity by going to or
  • Look up the actual website of the charity you want to donate to rather than trusting a link from an email or pop-up ad.
  • Note that legitimate charities’ websites typically end in .org, not .com.
  • Be cautious of crowdfunding sites. Since some of them do little to vet people who post for assistance after a disaster, be extra diligent about donating this way. The Better Business Bureau warns that some individuals posting for donations may not have any official connection to a charitable organization or could be using names and photos of victims without their families’ permission.

Home Repair Fraud

Following a weather-related emergency, scammers often show up offering to help with tree removal and home repair work.

The attorney general’s office advises consumers to do business with local firms that are well-established and whose references can be checked.

“Do not give individuals money upfront based upon the promise that they will be back to do the work,” the office said.

Below are more suggestions for things to do before you hire someone to do home repairs:

  • Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers for referrals.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau ( to see if there are any complaints against the business.
  • Make sure that general contractors, electricians, plumbers and heating and air conditioning contractors are licensed. You can verify this on the Secretary of State’s website: Note that certain specialty occupations such as roofers, painters, drywall contractors and repair handymen are not required to be licensed by the state.
  • Get written bids from several contractors. Be skeptical if the bid is too low. Cheaper is not necessarily better. Ask for references and check them out.
  • Always insist on a written contract for work to be performed, with all guarantees, warranties and promises in writing.
  • Ask to see proof of insurance -- personal liability, workers’ compensation and property damage.
  • Never pay for the entire project before the work begins. A small payment may be due upfront, but don’t pay in full until the project has been completed to your satisfaction.
  • Paying with a credit card instead of cash will give you more protections against fraud.


Scammers may also try to steal your money by posing as a representative from an insurance company,

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, Small Business Association or a law enforcement agency.

Don’t give out personal or financial information to someone you don’t know.

Remember that the services offered by FEMA and SBA are free, so if a “representative” asks you for payment, it’s a scam.


KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Beware of hurricane relief scams

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Beware of hurricane relief scams

(Getty File Photo)

Couple doesn't let Hurricane Irma stop wedding plans

One couple didn't let Hurricane Irma stop their wedding plans.

>> Read more trending news

Jennifer Johansen and Paulo Castro got married in downtown Jacksonville on Saturday -- as bands of strong wind and rain battered Jacksonville ahead of Hurricane Irma.

The couple invited WJAX to their ceremony.

Their first kiss as husband and wife was broadcast live.

Irma: Live updates

Search and rescue operations continue in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma. 

>> Read more trending news

Authorities worked to restore communication with the island residents and began work Monday on reopening the single highway that connects the islands to the mainland.

Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday evening. By Tuesday, it was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone. At least 17 people have died in the contiguous U.S. 

Power is beginning to be restored in Florida and Georgia.

>>Minute-by-minute updates to this post have ceased. For the latest Hurricane Irma news: 



PALM BEACH - Palm Beach Post



Hurricane Irma: Video shows scuba diver’s rescue

A scuba diver who was reported missing as Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida was rescued Sunday afternoon, according to Riviera Beach Fire Rescue.

>> Read more trending news 

The rescue was captured on video by someone in a nearby condominium. In the video, the scuba diver struggles to hold on to the rope but is finally rescued and transported to a shelter, where he was reported in good condition.


2, 000 alligators prepped for Hurricane Irma at Gatorland

There are more than 2,000 alligators living in Gatorland, and caretakers have prepped them for the Hurricane Irma’s powerful punch.

Mike Hileman, who works at Gatorland in Orlando, told Channel 9 reporter Karla Ray that they were ready for the storm.

>>Flock of flamingos seeks shelter at Busch Gardens

“The alligators, they’re doing what they do. They’ve been fighting these things for about 65 million years. They don’t really have any preferences,” Hileman said.

Hileman said the gators will likely take breaths and sit at the bottom of the lake.

Photos: Gators prepped for big storm

“We have 6-and 8-foot fences that take care of all the enclosures inside the park, and then there is another 8-foot fence that goes all the way around Gatorland property,” he said.

Ray asked whether there was any concern about the possibility of a gator escaping during the storm.

>>Hurricane Irma: Live updates 

“Even if a tree falls in an enclosure, and an alligator was to come out of the enclosure, we still have all those fences that they would have to navigate through. So, we’re not losing any gators,” Hileman said.

Raw Video: Alligators prepped at Gatorland ahead of Irma

Hileman said residents shouldn’t worry about their gators roaming around town.

“If you see an alligator swimming on the street, it’s not ours,” he said.

Gatorland also houses furry creatures, such as raccoons and bobcats. Hileman said those animals will be taken to a secure building.

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Hurricane Irma: Floridians say Amazon, others let them down before storm

They prepared for the worst. Or, at least they tried.

Dozens of shoppers who were depending on Amazon and Nestle’s ReadyRefresh said they didn’t get their storm-supply orders in time, The Associated Press reported.

Maya Kogul ordered three cases of water through Nestle’s ReadyRefresh before the storm made landfall. But the much-needed water never came.

Others didn’t get flashlights, battery-operated radios, boxed milk, water and first-aid kits from either Nestle’s or online retail giant, Amazon, the AP reported.

Amazon said that it was experiencing delays due to the weather. ReadyRefresh apologized via Twitter for delays.

Other customers said they received order cancellations after evacuations started and brick-and-mortar store shelves were already emptied of supplies.

Amazon was directing delivery complaints to UPS, which said it had suspended operations and that it delayed orders meant to be delivered either Thursday or Friday, the AP reported.

UPS will waive fees for rerouting packages to areas not under evacuations.


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