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|Storm Season 2005 - Hurricane Fast Facts|
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|Posted by:||Nov 1st 2005, 05:04:05 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||And then there's the Red Cross:
Red Cross Borrowing Funds for Storm Aid
By Jacqueline L. Salmon and Elizabeth Williamson
The American Red Cross said yesterday that its response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita has depleted its Disaster Relief Fund, forcing it to
borrow $340 million to cover costs -- the first time in its 124-year history that the charity has sought a loan for disaster relief.
Of the $2 billion in donations the organization said it needs to handle
relief efforts from the Gulf Coast hurricanes, it has received $1.3 billion
and spent all of it. "Our best projections indicate we're going to have a
shortfall of about $400 million," spokeswoman Carrie Martin said. "We're
still determining how much Wilma will cost."
The financial problems come as some members of Congress and other relief
agencies have begun to question the Red Cross's Katrina response, its
largest ever. Many of the difficulties the charity has encountered this
year mirror problems that surfaced in past catastrophes, records and
The Red Cross holds near-mythic status as the premier U.S. disaster relief
agency, a role reinforced by the federal government, which has incorporated
the organization as a key part of its disaster response.
But the $3 billion charity spends two-thirds of its resources on blood
collection, not disaster relief. And 90 percent of its disasters are small
fires and local mishaps. During larger events -- such as violent storms,
wildfires and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- the Red Cross has
stumbled repeatedly, misleading donors on how contributions are used and
underserving victims, particularly in rural minority communities, according
to other relief groups and experts on nonprofit agencies.
Although they acknowledged some missteps, Red Cross officials said the
charity is more than capable. The problems and the current financial
shortfall, they added, were due to the massive scale of the storm. "It's
just staggering when you have an area affected that is the size of Great
Britain," said chief executive Marsha J. Evans.
Critics said that is precisely the point: Similar problems have cropped up
in at least a half-dozen other large disasters in the past 16 years, from
the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco and Hurricane Hugo in South
Carolina in 1989 to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"The question is not whether we need something like the Red Cross, but
whether its capacity is scalable to true catastrophes and multiple disaster
events," said Kathleen Tierney, director of the Natural Hazards Center at
the University of Colorado. "Now we're talking about a pandemic. Where
would the Red Cross be?"
The Senate Finance Committee, which has oversight of nonprofit agencies,
has said it is "monitoring" the group's performance.
"The Red Cross in its disaster response was more than a charity. It was
also a federal contractor," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa),
chairman of the committee. "It's appropriate for Congress to verify whether
taxpayers got their money's worth."
On the House side, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has sent the
organization a letter asking about delays in helping Katrina victims;
procedures for providing aid and training volunteers; and steps the charity
has taken to "reach out to religious organizations, especially
African-American religious entities."
Evans responded with a seven-page letter laying blame for delays on the
Federal Emergency Management Agency, and she assured the committee that
"the American Red Cross seeks to develop long-term cooperative
relationships with community and faith-based organizations."
Chartered by Congress in 1905, the Red Cross today is designated by the
federal government as the nation's front-line responder in national
emergencies in providing "mass care" -- shelter, food and first aid for
disaster victims. It also functions as a support agency to the government
in providing blood, first aid and counseling services.
Those services are not affected by the current shortfall in the disaster
fund. The Red Cross has taken out a $1 billion line of credit from seven
banks and continues to raise money from the public.
Although this hurricane season marks the first time the Red Cross has
borrowed money for disaster relief, the organization has turned to Congress
several times to make up shortfalls. Most recently, it received a $70
million appropriation last year after four hurricanes raked Florida.
Some question the Red Cross's current claim of financial hardship,
suggesting that the organization could divert money from its other
Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy,
which monitors how charities spend their money, said that based on the
organization's most recent IRS reporting form, it has $700 million on hand
"For them to claim that they have nothing is not being very responsible,"
he said. "They have funds available for a disaster, even if it is not in
the Disaster Fund."
But yesterday, the Red Cross disputed that assessment. "We have [the
funds] as a resource, but it needs to be spent on what it's designated to
be spent on," Martin, the spokeswoman, said.
Beyond the internal constraints, the Red Cross has vowed to respect
donors' wishes when they give to a particular disaster. Complaints that it
had failed to do so were raised after the bombing of the Oklahoma City
federal building in 1995, the Red River Valley flooding in 1997 and the
California wildfires in 2001. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the charity
established a policy against redirecting earmarked contributions.
Public policy and disaster relief experts said the Red Cross should submit
to a systemic, independent audit of relief operations. They suggested that
such an examination probably would reveal troubled relations between the
national leadership and local chapters, faulty coordination of relief and
fund-raising efforts, and poor cooperation with other charities.
Many of these problems have arisen in the eight weeks since Katrina
Last week, the Red Cross was embarrassed when it discovered it had grossly
overestimated the number and costs of a hotel program for Katrina evacuees:
There were 200,000 people in hotels, not 600,000, officials acknowledged.
Earlier, evacuees in rural communities waited days for the Red Cross to
show up. Those who could find phones dialed for hours to reach a toll-free
number set up to link them with Red Cross financial help. In Shreveport,
La., the shelter in the Hirsch Coliseum was so short of basic supplies that
Red Cross staff went begging to a local church for diapers and underwear.
At the same time, some African American organizations accuse the Red Cross
of ignoring rural black communities, particularly in coastal Mississippi.
"It was the poorest logistical planning for communities of color that
could possibly have happened," said Joe Leonard Jr., executive director of
the Washington-based Black Leadership Forum and organizer of relief efforts
in that region after Katrina. Leonard said churches and civil rights
groups, which survivors dubbed "the Black Cross," stepped in to provide aid
in the absence of the Red Cross.
"When you've got communities that don't have any visit by the Red Cross at
all, no shelter, no water or food and in terrible straits . . . Lord, I'm
surprised more people didn't die," said George Penick, president of the
Foundation for the Mid South, which helped channel aid to the gulf region
and coordinate relief efforts.
Yesterday, the Red Cross acknowledged that its response to minority
evacuees during Katrina and Rita was lacking, with some African American
communities having less access to aid than white communities. Leaders met
last week with 60 faith-based groups, ethnic groups and community
organizations to talk about developing a "broader sense of inclusion" in
its disaster-relief efforts, said Rick Pogue, the charity's chief diversity
Ultimately, the Red Cross needs to open itself to greater outside scrutiny
and address its shortcomings, said Peter Dobkin Hall, a lecturer on
nonprofit organizations at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of
"What happens if you don't do that is you live off your myth and you
conceal problems," he said. "They're an organization obsessed by its own
myth, that thinks it can do it all itself."
Staff writer Gilbert M. Gaul contributed to this report.
|Posted by:||Nov 1st 2005, 05:02:42 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||Hurricane Katrina - Fast Facts 10/25
Published by Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters,
Community Relations & Development Department, Atlanta, Georgia
The Salvation Army responded immediately following Hurricanes Katrina and
Rita serving the immediate needs of survivors by providing shelter, food,
water, ice, cleaning supplies, and hygiene products. Over 600,000 people have been served in at least 30 states. The following information represents the Southern Territory's fifteen states and the District of
· The Salvation Army has served 3,556,453 hot meals, 5,537,154
sandwiches, snacks & drinks.
· The Salvation Army has provided 150 Mobile Feeding Units (Canteens),
19 Field Kitchens, capable of producing 20,000 hot meals per day (each)
· The Salvation Army has distributed 130,173 Cleaning Kits. (Broom,
bucket, mop & detergent) and 108,730 Food Boxes (groceries.)
· The Salvation Army has ministered through Pastoral Care to 195,933
· The Salvation Army has registered and begun helping with 221,370
Social Services Cases.
· The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) has received
over 61,000 inquiries and has found 25,5o8 survivors.
· Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers have served a total
of 617,474 hours.
The Salvation Army has assisted a total of 817,337 individuals.
us online at