Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke August 24, 2023

The military didn’t arrest FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks, despite online claims

If Your Time is short

  • There’s no evidence that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s deputy administrator was arrested. This claim originated on a site that regularly publishes fabricated stories. 

A strain of misinformation that’s emerged following catastrophic wildfires in Hawaii pits the U.S. Marine Corps against the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

We’ve already debunked a claim about Marines and FEMA agents engaged in an epic gunfight. Now we’re looking at another unfounded allegation from the same source: Real Raw News, a website that regularly publishes fabricated stories

"Military arrests FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks," reads the headline of an Aug. 22 Real Raw News story shared by a recent Facebook post

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The story says Hooks, who has served as FEMA’s deputy administrator since 2021, was arrested on treason charges because he "ordered agents in Maui to deny fire victims food and water, to inhibit civilian relief efforts, to stop ‘by any means necessary displaced persons from exiting fire-ravaged Lahaina, and to dispose of bodies as ‘discriminately as possible.’"

Featured Fact-check

"There is obviously no truth to these claims," FEMA told PolitiFact in an email. "Deputy Administrator Hooks is literally at FEMA headquarters as we speak, and has been here all week, working with FEMA personnel and our interagency partners as we help the people of Maui recover."

Plus, the agency added, the Defense Department "is one of FEMA’s strongest partners during disaster response and recovery efforts."

We found no evidence to support this post’s claims. There are no credible news stories or other sources to corroborate the allegations. Nor were there any federal criminal court filings against Hooks when we searched PACER, a database of electronic court records. 

On Aug. 23, FEMA’s account on X, formerly known as Twitter, shared that people affected by fires in Hawaii can apply for disaster assistance and may be eligible for short-term lodging and money for things such as water, food and medicine. 

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!


Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

The military didn’t arrest FEMA Deputy Administrator Erik Hooks, despite online claims

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up