As Hurricane Harvey approaches the Texas coast, Houston is preparing to ride out the coming rain.
While the storm is a serious threat, officials are warning an internet hoax could provoke unnecessary panic.
A viral email and social media post falsely states officials believe Harvey’s danger to be far worse than is being reported.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett was one of the first to react to the email, which he says is inaccurate.
One of the email’s claims is that the city expects more rain to fall than what is allegedly being reported.
One post, written by an internet user who claims to work for a Texas law firm, reads as follows:
“Hey guys, I’m not trying to start a panic, but as some of you know, I work for a law firm here downtown. One of the lawyers I work with has a friend on the Houston City Council. The news is not telling the whole turth. The storm is expected to be three times worse than what the news is saying because they don’t want a panic on the freeways like Hurricane Rita. The City Council and Harris County Flood Control had an emergency meeting this morning. Evertything sound of Katy is predicted to be devastated. They’re predicting 50 inches of rain, not 24 like the news is saying, and 100,000 homes destroyed. Theyre expecting all of Houston to be without power for three days. If you guys live in a flood zone, you need to get out of Houston or try to stay with someone further north of Houston. I hope they’re wrong, but that is the latest I’ve heard from what the news isn’t telling you. Stay safe everyone.”
Emmett assured residents the city is prepared for the storm, regardless of how much rain falls.
“There’s no number,” he said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle. “All you can do is be prepared for unheard of amounts of rain.”
Mayor Sylvester Turner joined in on the conversation, as well, encouraging citizens to rely on reputable weather news sources, such as the National Weather Service and local meterologists for updates and information on the storm.
County officials are further asking people stop sharing the false information on social media, KHOU reported.
One law firm pegged in one of the versions of the fake news did not take credit for the contents of the email, but did not directly deny it originated within their system, the Houston Chronicle reported.
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