Hurricane Harvey

FEMA exposes personal, banking details of 2.5 million disaster survivors

FEMA. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency admitted on Friday to a data "incident" involving the personal and banking information of 2.5 million U.S. disaster survivors who used FEMA's Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, the Washington Post reports.

Details: Those effected survived natural disasters including hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The release of the information could result in identity theft and fraud, according to a watchdog report dated March 15. FEMA Press Secretary Lizzie Litzow explained in a statement that the security blunder was the result of FEMA "oversharing" "unnecessary" amounts of personal details during the process of transferring disaster survivor information to a contractor. Litzow also said the government agency is taking "aggressive measures to correct this error," per the Post.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say the release of information was not a "breach."

Expert Voices

Energy system ill-prepared for impact of accelerated global warming

Pacific Gas and Electric Company crews work to restore power near fire-damaged Cardinal Newman High School on October 14, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company crews work to restore power near fire-damaged Cardinal Newman High School on October 14, 2017, in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: David McNew via Getty Images

The intensity of the wildfires raging in California is just the latest example of climate change's deadly manifestations. Northern California utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is under renewed scrutiny as a possible culprit in the Camp fire, which has devastated towns north of Sacramento, raising serious questions about the fitness of the utility's equipment and its compliance with state safety laws.

The big picture: PG&E is not alone in being unprepared for the harmful effects of a warming planet. Around the globe, many energy and fuel producers have been caught off guard this year by severe storms, anomalous temperatures and rapid changes to available water supplies.