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Is Red Cross mismanaging Sandy response?
Robert Munoz collects supplies from a mobile Red Cross unit on Staten Island.
November 21st, 2012
11:38 AM ET

Is Red Cross mismanaging Sandy response?

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @SKastenbaumCNN

(CNN) - At a time when people needed help right away, some in areas hit hard by Superstorm Sandy were asking, “Where is the Red Cross?”

The nation’s largest relief organization was coming under fire as it struggled to deal with the enormity of the disaster and the challenges it posed.

[1:43] “It just took us a little while for us to get into some of those neighborhoods,” said Red Cross spokesperson Anne Marie Borrego. “We were dealing with flooding and downed trees and traffic snarls like many other New Yorkers. So it did take us a while I would say to get to some areas. But we have been on the ground since the beginning and are we everywhere we want to be right now? No. But we are everywhere we can be with the resources that we have.”

Did the Red Cross do a poor job of managing the response in those first few days, or were expectations set too high for the premier relief organization in the US?

It depends on who you ask. Borrego says in a relief effort this large they can’t meet everyone’s expectations.

[3:08] “So sometimes we do sort of have to explain what we do... Sometimes there’s a little bit of education on our part.”

But some Red Cross volunteers think the agency could be more effective if it showed more flexibility in adapting to the changing needs of storm victims over time.

Patrick Thrasher volunteered in the Rockaways section of New York as a leader for his company’s Red Cross response team.

[5:42] “So they have hundreds of volunteers wanting to help and they are shunting them into kind of a response mechanism that might have been useful ten days prior but not now.”

Thrasher was surprised by some basic management issues that still existed two weeks into the relief effort such as phone numbers of key organizers not being readily available to teams on site. He hopes the Red Cross will embrace the constructive criticism.

Borregao says they welcome it as they look for the gaps in their relief effort and work to do a better job next time.

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

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soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. J

    The Red Cross doesn't ahve to be there at all. It is completely voluntary, supported by volunteers and donations. To whine and complain that their services are not up to snuff is just ludicrous. Next time you're told that worst storm in a century is about to smash into one of the most densely populated parts of the country (and I'm not just talking about NYC), maybe you'll listen up and take some responsibility for your own well being.

    November 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Hmm...

    When the "Mother's Day Tornado" of 2008 (?) hit here in Middle Georgia, the Red Cross showed within hours. I had no power and an 800 ton oak was planted firmly through my house. Though it was raining "in" my house, now, because of the gaping hole in my roof, I simply felt Red Cross was there to ensure I was warm, hydrated and had some food. Because I heeded the warning of the storm, I had plenty of food, water and it was summer, so, I was plenty warm. I did not have the perception that the Red Cross was there to "take care of me". That was MY responsibility. I'm the one that needs to be prepared for ANYTHING in the face of a storm or other natural disaster. I respect what Red Cross does and actually donate when I can. I, now, have founded my own non-profit and do not envy the huge task of fundraising that is necessary so they might do their work effectively. All non-profits must adjust as they come to understand their methods of charitable outreach need revision or tailoring to meet the needs of those they help. They did as I expected, even though my home was nearly destroyed. I was happy to see them. I did not feel they were there to find me new housing, feed me or even give me a hug. I'm a tough, rugged American and THAT event was not going to define how I moved on. The Red Cross will make it's adjustments and do a better job. However, when weather centers and local news outlets tell you to stock up or leave, do it. Don't just think, 'It's not gonna be THAT bad. We've had storms before. I'll just ride this out and all we be fine'. That kind of thinking creates situations where people WILL need rescuing, food and shelter...if you live through the disaster.

    November 25, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Someone

      This happened in New York state, and the red cross in the area is the problem,and because they did a good thing at that point in time doesn't make an excuse for them now.

      November 25, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jachim

        What, tired of blaming Obama so now it's Red Cross's fault? wtf people

        November 26, 2012 at 1:20 am | Report abuse |
        • Commander42

          The Red Cross uses these disasters to pay the extremely high salaries of their executives in every place they operate in. During the 911 crisis they were well supplied with money but few people received even a trickle. For myself I wouldn't ever give them a nickel. They sat on the records of what happened to those in Europe transported by the Nazis and only let us relatives in after 60 years to find out. Mine had survived but were no longer living. Isn't that a touch of irony for a rescue organization.

          November 27, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
      • armyvet129

        An excuse for what? The Red Cross is there, and they are providing what they can in the areas they can cover. It's up to you as individual citizens to help yourself. New York and surrounding areas had warnings this was coming, time to prepare to hunker down and live primitive for a while or leave the area. Those who stayed and were not prepared to assist themselves have no one to blame but themselves. It really saddens me to see how dependent some are on our government in time of crisis. We American's are in a dangerous place with this many helpless people amongst us.

        November 26, 2012 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. TeamChaos

    It seems the red cross is helping people ore than FEMA, where is mr ill cut the red tape.. Obama lied for votes.

    November 25, 2012 at 7:02 am | Report abuse |
  4. amanda

    The people knew the storm was coming, they should have made better preperations. They should also just be glad that we have any orginizations that try to help instead of me seeing them on the news the next day saying how they are starving. You are grown men and women, there are many contries where you would just be shit out of luck and actually starving if this had happened. So stop expecting everyone to come save you. Im sorry you lost your home, thats why you make sure you have the right insurance. If you didn't, then thats your own fault too. But I am sick and tired of the way the hurrican "victims" are acting. Grow up, and take resposibility for your self. It is no bodys job to take care of you. These people come and help out of the goodness of thier hearts, so do not complain when they do.

    November 24, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jamie

    If its not a Government agency and it is a free handout for those who need it and this agency relies on donations of course there are going to be times where that help is not enough. So now you are going to complain about not getting a handout? Please. Ask the Government for that. That is what your hard earned wages that went to tax is for.

    November 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. LC

    The Red Cross is NOT a goverment agency. It can only do what it can depending on VOLUNTEERS and donations. The Salvation Army does a remarkable job too, given that they're not a government agency and are reliant on donations. I am so very sorry for people in this disaster but people need to quit whining about charities who do not or cannot come to their rescue. Hold accountable those government agencies and utilities who are PAID to be responsible to the public! When no help comes and you need a helping hand I guess sometimes the only place you can find one is at the end of your own arm.

    November 24, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. gatesoutcast

    Please be careful when attacking the Red Cross it is a secular organization that serves all Americans. Religious groups like Salvation Army compete for donations, and the Army is strictly biasa against who it serves,and there are FOR PROFIT business folks who want your donations.

    November 24, 2012 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. LoopyLibertarian

    Team Rubicon is the way to go. They are not afraid of floods or downed trees or anything like that. They are former veterans who have seen much worse, and they wade in full force to get the job DONE.

    November 23, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      I've seen Team Rubicon out in the Rockaways a lot. The work they are doing is impressive.

      November 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      Unlike organizations like the Red Cross, Team Rubicon does not deal with long-term recovery. They play a *very* valuable short-term role...but it's not the only role that needs to be played. During Sandy and because of their size, they focused their efforts in the Rockaways, and I'm sure the folks there were very grateful. Kudos to them.

      At the same time, far too many people complain and criticize when *they* are not first on the relief list, never stopping to think ahout the bigger picture.

      Indeed, some volunteers also criticize because they have a really limited viewpoint, and don't always realize it. During Katrina, a Red Cross volunteer from my midwestern community was actually sent home because she was angry that, while they were still feeding hundreds of people at every meal where she was, someone who had come from a small nearby town mentioned that the other town had no Red Cross meals assistance there, so she wanted the Red Cross to pack up and move to the other town *immediately* because "Grocery stores are opening back up here, so people can buy and cook their own food at home now." Apparently she didn't grasp that the people being fed by her group lived in homes that were still under 9' of water!!

      It also turns out that a local church had opened a soup kitchen/shelter in that other town, and *that* was where the residents were being fed/sheltered. They actually didn't need a Red Cross food truck there. But she, as a volunteer, didn't just want the Red Cross to check on the needs of the other town, which would have been reasonable...but to literally pack up shop and move there immedoately and was angry when they didn't! (The stress obviously got to her.)

      November 25, 2012 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. deloreskirkwood

    This is the third time I have seen articles questioning the Red Cross on mismanagement, 9-11 and the New Orleans (?) hurricane. THIS is why I give to the Salvation Army – along with what my Dad said about the Red Cross during the War.
    The Red Cross only "served" the soldiers in the Officer Quarters, but the Salvation Army came to those who fought on the front line.

    November 23, 2012 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      That old "the Red Cross onlt served people in the Officers' Quarters" nonsense again. The Red Cross was most certainly serving the regular troops. However, the other Allied forces regular troops were having to pay for their donuts, etc. and there was some envy going on, so the US War Department asked the Red Cross to start charing, too.

      I refuse to donate to the Salvation Army because my professional experiences with them have been very negative. I got sick and tired of Captains who couldn't stand homeless people because they believed that *no one* was ever homeless against their will.

      And keep in mind that the Red Cross also works with long-term recovery, not just short-term...so they should NOT spend all their money at once. Many people don't understand that.

      November 25, 2012 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  10. HRN

    The American Red Cross should be investigated for its shelter management capabilities with regard to safety and health issues. As a previous Red Cross Disaster worker who was working with another organization in Garden City recently, I witnessed an organization in need of retraining in shelter operations, mass care, safety, cultural sensitivity, and political correctness. The shelter manager lacked the skills and often dealt inappropriately in effectively managing the increasing number of shelter residents and government organizations involved with the shelter recovery efforts. A lack of top-down communication poor professionalism trickled down to other paid and volunteer staff within the shelter, creating a negative image of the American Red Cross for shelter residents and other workers. Political bias, personal cultural and situational opinions should not be displayed when involved in disaster relief or positions of leadership. Unfortunately, this hampers relief and recovery efforts and adds additional stress to an already stressful situation.

    November 23, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      @HRN – I think this is the type of feedback Red Cross officials want to hear as they evaluate their response to Sandy. You might want to bring this to their attention.

      November 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      So, based on one shelter manager, you're finding fault with the entire organization? Don't you think it would make more sense to report the shelter manager to the Red Cross, rather than run down the Red Cross organization for the poor performance of one person???

      November 25, 2012 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rick

    I read that right after the storm hit the Canadian Red Cross offered help and the American Red Cross declined the offer.

    November 23, 2012 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      Nope. Not true.

      November 25, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. RJ Jennings

    I HATE the Red Cross and here is why.

    In Sept 1965 after hurricane BETSY, as a native of New Orleans, I was a navigator for a Red Cross van with three bigwigs from out of town. I wasn't allowed to drive the van, just guide them like a living TomTom. They didn't accomplish anything except go on a three day sight seeing tour, ask me for a list of good restaurants and act as if they were on vacation. After years as a volunteer, this was the beginning of my disgust with the RED CROSS.

    In Aug 1969 I was in Biloxi MS when Hurricane Camille made landfall in Pass Christian MS, as a Category 5 hurricane. In Biloxi, at the Lighthouse, everything from the beach to the railroad tracks (8 city blocks) was flattened. I watched a RED CROSS WORKER require a couple with a hungry screaming baby to fill out paperwork before giving them milk. Also because of my position as a Air Force MARS radio operator, I heard the top RED CROSS COORDINATORS decide to wait days at the closed civilian airport and refuse to have supplies land at Keesler Air Force Base because they didn't want "the military to get credit for their supplies."

    In 1972 I was in South East Asia. My wife contacted the RED CROSS to notify me that my son was born and they both were in good health. This was the ONLY way for fast important personal inbound messages to be delivered. The RED CROSS notified me AFTER a letter from my wife arrived wanting to know why I hadn't used the MARS facility to call her. There was no civilian inbound telephone, telegraph, etc. and MARS was only outbound.

    Later in 1972, again in South East Asia, a SGT in my squadron received a back-channel message that his father died. As an only child he should have been allowed to go home immediately. The RED CROSS was requested to validate the emergency so that he could be with his mother for the funeral. They took 2 weeks and he missed the funeral. He wanted to KILL somebody. After he left, he was able to stay with his mother.

    In the last 20 years, the RED CROSS has been caught several times collecting money for a specific disaster and squiring it away instead of distributing those dedicated gifts as they should have been.

    Below is the CANADIAN tainted blood scandal caused by the RED CROSS.

    ================

    The (Canadian) Inquiry finished in December 1996. In July 1997, the Health Minister Allan Rock announced the Red Cross would not have a role in a new Canadian blood agency. After more than 50 years of running the country's blood system, the Red Cross would be reduced to recruiting blood donors.

    Charges were eventually laid against the Red Cross. The charges laid on Nov. 20, 2002, followed a five-year investigation by the RCMP. On May 30, 2005, the Red Cross pleaded guilty to a lesser charge — violating the Food and Drug Regulation Act by distributing an adulterated or contaminated drug. The agency was fined $5,000 — the maximum penalty for the offence under the act.

    November 23, 2012 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
  13. lawrence johnson

    60 years ago a FRIEND TOLD ME HOW THE RED CROSS SHOWED UP IN LOUISIANA THREE weeks after a huricane.The salvation army was there in two days .He said after every thing was over he cam to birmingham an thry were still collecting money.He hated those crooks.My fater in law now age 91 hates the red cross because in wourld war to in the phillipians he had to pay the red cross 5 cents for a pencil and paper to write home.I gave them 20 pints of blood til one day i saw them pouring blood down the sink,while i was give it in birmingham,al. A employee Who was married to a relitive told me she lost mher job there because they promotes there relitives,Anmost make over $100,000 a year.

    November 23, 2012 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      60 year old hearsay about the Red Cross response over an entire state...and you still believe your friend knew what he was talking about??? And you still pass it on??? Good grief. You should have developed some common sense by now.

      Oh...and your dad? He should have reserved his anger for the US War Department...because *they* were who told the Red Cross they had to charge for things because the other Allied troops were getting upset about the free stuff that US troops were getting and their own war-torn countries culdn't afford.

      November 25, 2012 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  14. Judy

    I have volunteered with the Red Cross, going to Mississippi after Katrina, and have also been the beneficiary of assistance from the Red Cross when my house burned to the ground. I would and will volunteer again and they can have my support any way they need it.

    November 22, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Thailand68

    Look for cameras and you will find the Red Cross. While do some good, it is not in proportion to Church or Volunteer Fire / Rescue squads. But they are not shy about self-promotion and always asking for more money.

    November 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emily

      So, if the Red Cross is not visable, how are they going to fundraise money? Welcome to the land of non-profits, where they are ALL CONSTANTLY PROMOTING THEMSELVES. It is not a federally funded program. They need to raise money to deliver services to people.

      When your house burns down someday (heaven forbid) and the fire department puts it out and packs up and goes home and you are left standing on the street curb, you will be very happy to have the Red Cross drive up and offer you something simple like a blanket or a hotel voucher so you can sleep for the next few days.

      November 23, 2012 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
      • RJ Jennings

        Emily, have you ever gotten a blanket from the RED CROSS?

        As an accountant I know what it means for the RED CROSS to be a non-profit.
        They don't sell stock, and have no owners but the upper management is over-paid.
        The president of the American Red Cross makes more than the president of these United States.
        They have one of the WORST percentages of COSTS to donations ratios of any of the large non-profits.
        What they have is history and a bloated bureaucracy.
        And they have innocent people like you that haven't suffered from their abuses.
        Ask ex-military servicemen for their opinions.

        November 23, 2012 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
        • skastenbaumcnn

          @RJ Jennings – Overpaid compared to what? The salaries of the top executives at the Red Cross are comparable to the top salaries of CEOs of other non-profit large relief agencies. When you run an organization that large the pay is of a certain scale. Look it up and see for yourself. Again, I refer you to the link I posted in an earlier comment that shows an independent analysis of the Red Cross financials.

          November 23, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
        • Kay

          92% of donations to the Red Cross go to help. (89% of donations to the Salvation Army goes to help.) 92% is actually very good. Your being an accountant means nothing.

          November 25, 2012 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  16. Caiha

    The problem is large amounts of donated money goes straight into the pockets of friends and family of Red Cross employees, yeah a few of them got caught after Katrina, but it's been years since then... they've had plenty of time to learn how to hide it better. Donate to Red Cross if all you care about is a tax deduction. If you want to actually help people, there are better ways to do it...

    November 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      And what about the hundreds of thousands of people up and down the Northeast coast who received millions of hot meals for free since Sandy struck more than three weeks ago? Was that donated money not put to good use?

      November 23, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      People make up stories like this all the time. You should be ashamed of passing them on.

      November 25, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  17. skastenbaumcnn

    Steve Kastenbaum here, the reporter who produced this story. The Red Cross actually gets high marks for being transparent and using the majority of donations for relief work. According to most evaluations approximately 8% of donations go toward salaries and administrative costs. The criticism comes from the type of response victims of the storm saw. In many areas it took more than three days for the Red Cross to establish a presence. Perhaps that's understandable given the scope of the disaster and the fact that some of their local volunteers were actually victims of the storm and could not respond. But over time, as the Red Cross became well established in most storm stricken areas,.experienced volunteers I spoke with, people with management experience, said the Red Cross mechanism showed an inability to adapt to the changing conditions on the ground. They were stuck in a relief mode that was more appropriate for the first few days after the storm when people needed a different kind of relief 2 and 3 weeks into the recovery effort. The criticism also extended to the management of volunteers on the ground. Basic management was lacking. For example, there was a lack of consistency as teams of volunteers cycled through. Basic information, like on site managers' phone numbers were not readily available to teams in the Rockaways. People who knew the area were being managed by people who didn't know the area which means that they might not have gotten to the areas that locals knew would be most in need. Perhaps, when dealing with an organizations as large as the Red Cross we can"t expect them to be nimble and to adapt on the fly as well as smaller local organizations can. With that said, I've been reporting in New York for 2 decades an I've witnessed on countless occasions what a great job the Red Cross does on a daily basis. Local on-call volunteers respond immediately to localized disasters like apartment building fires and are quick to find shelter for displaced residents.

    As for the monetary breakdown, see this evaluation: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3277

    November 22, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • RJ Jennings

      Who says 8%?
      Who says 3 days?
      After Hurricane Camille in Biloxi (Aug 1969) the first trucks the MS police let through were from The Salvation Army. They drove from New Orleans with shelves full of cases of simple sandwiches (wax paper bags).
      They also had the floor filled with new giant garbage full of soft drinks and ice.
      Three (3) days????????????????????????????
      Do you know what can hap[pen to people that have to wait 3 days?
      Quit reading the press releases and talk to the grumbling people, but that doesn't make happy television does it?

      November 23, 2012 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
      • skastenbaumcnn

        @RJ Jennings – check the link I supplied for the 8% figure. As for three days, that's what I witnessed. But to be clear, all government agencies, be they local or national, suggest that if you are readying for a natural disaster you should have enough supplies on hand so that you can make it on your own for for 48 to 72 hours because that might be how long it will take for organized help to reach you.

        November 23, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  18. TeamChaos

    What about FEMA obama said he will cut the red tape, oh that was before the election,, sorry you have been forgotten..lol

    November 22, 2012 at 5:26 am | Report abuse |
  19. rallwebdev

    And FEMA can do it any better? im never been the biggest fan of Red Cross, when things "happen" i donate to local charities that are on the ground, your money is better spent that way... But i can say the red cross does a far better job them FEMA. Why compare the too? they both get government money, FEMA more so. So you would think FEMA would be able to do its damn job right?

    November 22, 2012 at 5:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Lindsay

      Actually, the Red Cross does not get any government money. All our money is 100% donations, which is why it's a bit difficult sometimes in our responses because we have limited funds and resources. We have the same struggles as most non-profits in that aspect, just on a larger scale. FEMA is government, Red Cross is not, although we do have a Congressional mandate, but that doesn't mean we get federal money.

      November 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • Nathan

        limited funds...you've GOT to be kidding!!! They raise MILLIONS every time there's a disaster, they get every major actor, tv show, news organization, sports team etc to advertise never mind the telethons. Then we find out the Red Cross spent almost $200,000.000 on hotels for its volunteers. I was a volunteer in the Rockaways with a different organization. The group of veterans I was with were sleeping in an unheated warehouse on cots and in sleeping bags, eating one hot meal a day. My grandparents were telling me today that they were so glad I found a new non-profit to volunteer with because they won't donate to the Red Cross anymore because of the corruption. My family/friends will be donating to Team Rubicon from this point forward.

        November 23, 2012 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
        • Kay

          I sure wish Americans would learn to put things in context. And realize that whatever experiences they have are unique to them, not some sort of standard by which everything should be judged. But noooooo.

          November 25, 2012 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  20. Michael A Ruzicho

    The Red Cross should honor gay men who desire to donate blood and etc. It is straight wrong to judge one on their sex at any cost. When will we get our act together as a society for all.

    November 21, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • jason

      Its not the Red Cross that's the problem, its outdated federal law. When AIDS became an issue and was primarly thought to have come from homosexual men it was made illegal to take blood donations from them. The Red Cross is trying to get this changed but it takes time and money.

      November 21, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emily

      Ugh, no. You are so wrong. The FDA, Blood Centers of the Pacific, etc. have all signed a joint resolution condeming the FDA's decision for banning gay men from donating. However, the Red Cross MUST follow federal law and legally cannot collect blood from gay men.

      November 23, 2012 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
      • Emily

        Sorry, I meant the Red Cross*, Blood Centers of the Pacific...

        November 23, 2012 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
      • RJ Jennings

        Emily,

        Don't get caught up in the side issues, like blood and homosexuals (gay means happy).

        FOLLOW THE MONEY.
        Hotels, meals, transportation, GIFTS: clothes, jackets, hats, civilian radios, folding knives.
        None of that was used to help people because it all went HOME with the out of state people.
        They live HIGH ON THE HOG and I know because I've seen it.
        I've been the free volunteer with the wet shoes and the 16 hour days and they will never use me again.
        You are very naïve to plead the Politically Correct side issues.
        Stick with the really BIG facts.

        November 23, 2012 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
  21. Ciscokid

    Maybe we need to have a local response team instead of depending on outsiders..Mayors of these city's need to step up especially!

    November 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Judy

      That's why every neighborhood should have a community emergency response team (CERT). If you really are concerned about the lack of immediate response in a disaster, look for your closest team and volunteer. We should all be prepared to take care of ourselves and our families for at least 3-5 days with no outside help. Educate yourselves and join a CERT team for training.

      November 22, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  22. b0bc4t

    If you saw a RedCross truck, or had volunteers at a shelter or roadside near you, be thankful to every volunteer that braved the storm / fire / natural disaster that you suffered. These people go into harm's way to reach out to others, but sadly, it is never enough. Restoring and building back up after a disaster is painstaking and arduous work, that takes time, (even if the destruction only took seconds) so do what you can for yourselves, and be patient that as help is available, it may soon come your way. Of course, the enormity of damage may make that wait unbearable ... be STRONG!

    November 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Kadi

    I have been a volunteer and paid staff for the Red Cross for over 12 years and these types of articles always rankle me. Yes, Red Cross is not perfect, despite their years of doing disaster relief. Yes, they misuse funds at times but every penny donated TO a specific disaster is USED in that disaster response, must be accounted for and shown where and how used.

    As for their disaster responses – please folks, imagine 100s of strangers coming together in a strange locale where even the local authorities cannot tell them the hardest hit areas or which roads are open to get to them. These volunteers come together, often times before there is reliable phone communications and their desks and chairs have arrived, to pull together the response to meet the BASIC needs (shelter, food, medical and emotional care) for those affected as soon as possible. Although they try their best to pre-stage, Red Cross cannot wave a magic wand and have all their resources in place and efficient operations the day after a disaster but that doesn't stop the volunteers first on the ground from trying their hardest to do with what they have while waiting for their material and food supplies arrive.

    No matter what part of the country you live in, whatever disasters may strike there, PSA's always tell folks to prepare for at least 72 HOURS (that's 3 days) before help will arrive. That's in a perfect world. Reality being higher population density, stronger storms, people should prepare to take care of themselves for 6-7 DAYS before expecting the government or ANY relief agency or church to be there to help. People are warned to fill up their gas tanks ahead of the storm. Yet, 24 hours after the storm people are in long lines at gas stations and BITCHING. Really??????

    November 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Isaac

    Not that it is related to anything but where are all those foreign countries helping us after that hurricane on the east coast. I know its not that bad and we can handle it. but we always help foreign countries after a disaster.

    November 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • icythepenguin

      Well hundreds of Hydro workers from Ontario, Canada went down to help restore power after the storm hit. The thing about aid is, while it is offered to the country that has been affected, the government running said country has to accept it. Canadians are willing to help and have helped in the past. All the US needs to do is accept whats offered and ask for what they need.

      November 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lindsay

      There are teams of volunteers from Canada and Mexico in the area.

      November 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • JOSE--USMC-0311

        MEXICO TEAM, WILL REFUSE TO GO BACK TO MEXICO I BET.

        November 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Rosanna

    Now what about being more patient towards humans who are against such? They have to learn kids how to react towrds these disasters. Also we parents must learn how to take actions wethter its a flood or if there is room for learning taking responsibility and save kids not only thinking about theirselves.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  26. KarenFaye

    Having worked for 6 months at a Red Cross chapter as an office manager - I can absolutely VERIFY that funds are horribly misused and misdirected. About 30% of donations actually are used for disaster – the rest pays salaries of the higher ups, pays for lavish trips for "meetings", and other nonsense. That was why I quit. I tried to help a single mother and son burned out of their home by providing them some clothing and a $25 WalMart voucher and was "chastised" for wasting money. I resigned, and refuse to give one red cent to Red Cross. Salvation Amy uses 100% of their donations for recipients - so I give freely to them.

    November 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      Steve Kastenbaum here, the reporter who put this story together. Actually, the Red Cross gets high marks for being transparent and using a high percentage of donations for actual work. Salaries and other administrative costs do not take up of the money. See here: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3277

      November 22, 2012 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
      • cyndi

        In 2009 we lost our home to a wildfire. The local community made donations in the millions to the Red Cross to aid the survivors of this natural disaster. The treatment our family received from the red cross was despicable. I had to spend a huge amount of energy fighting their administration to receive help from the funds that were given for explicitly that purpose. I was constantly faced with an attitude that we the victims of the disaster were trying to scam them! Talk insult to injury!! i filed complaints with their central office in D.C. and had to work with an independent ombudsman to get them to fulfill their own mission statement. All this while suffering from PTS!!! It was a nightmare.
        Lesson learned..DO NOT CONTRIBUTE FUNDS TO THE RED CROSS FOR DIASTER RELIEF!!! IT WILL NOT BE USED IN THE SPIRIT IN WHICH YOU INTENDED.

        November 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      The Salvation Army most certainly does *NOT* use all their donations on recipients. Where on earth did you get *that* idea??? They spend less on recipients than the Red Cross!!

      Personally, I won't donate a penny to *them* because my professional experience with several Captains has been that they can't stand most of those "recipients".

      November 25, 2012 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  27. max3333444555

    what can we expect from a government funded non-profit?

    November 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • KarenFaye

      If you saw some of the lavish trips and fancy hotel rooms the higher ups in the Red Cross utilized with "donations", you wouldn't call them "non-profit". If it weren't for HONEST volunteers – nobody would get an ounce of help from the Red Cross.

      November 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • Kay

        You don't have a clue what "non-profit" means, do you?

        November 25, 2012 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill Thomas

      In regard to government funding, the National Red Cross was "chartered" by the government, yet does not receive its operating budget from the government. The funding sources are:

      – Charitable donations from the American public

      – Participation in the United Way and Combined Federal Campaigns

      – Reimbursements and grants from local, state and federal government agencies for specific projects

      November 22, 2012 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  28. Pimwimbush

    Not surprized by this headline – my house was flooded with 15ft of water in GA several years back. When Red Cross came out to do a "head count" and make sure the folks in my hard hit neighborhood where all present and accounted the volunteer admitted they were not prepared (but we had warring of rough weather) and gave me an apple and packet of crackers. That was all she had in her vehicle, from a prior emergency. She told me that providing shelter was not possible, not something Red Cross did, but they could get me a blanket or bedding once I found a place to stay. No mention of clothing either.... Their second vist a few days later, was even less helpful. It was unfortunate as I grew up thinking the Red Cross was there to help in tough times. Not just shrugg shoulders and move to next spot.

    November 21, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
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