Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Red Cross is FUBAR

I always thought the Red Cross was a mighty and altruistic institution, in fact after 9/11 that's who I donated money to in order to do my little part in helping the victims and families of that tragedy.

Never again. I will never donate to the Red Cross again. Here's why and this is only my simple little story.

In the first weeks post-K, the horror stories of dealing with the Red Cross began to percolate and shared amongst all of us. Hours spent on telephones only to be disconnected, misadvertisements of Red Cross Disaster Assistance locations, and waiting in lines for many hours when one did locate a Red Cross distribution center.

I had zero succes with applying with the Red Cross, and mostly I simply saw helicopters fly over with Red Crosses on them.

Finally in early October as I was finally leaving New Orleans and heading out west, I stopped off in a small town in southern Louisiana where I discovered a Red Cross location with next to no line. I excitedly went through the lines until I reached a Red Cross volunteer who explained to me and the few people there that they had just closed down the location after lunch because "they had all just eaten, and were now tired."

I nearly vomitted and then said, "Oh, y'all are tired. That's great. We've lost everything - don't you think that we're a little tired too."

Look, I have no issues with the many thousands of Red Cross volunteers. These are brave and giving people who truly are trying to help - but the damn beaureacracy that is the Red Cross - well they can go to hell.

Anyway, one month later I was finally able to get through via their telephone number and registered for Disaster Assistance and then started to wait.

Fast forward to late December, still having not received any assistance, I sent the following email to the Red Cross:

From: TAG
Date: Wednesday, De
cember 28, 2005 01:14 PM
To: info@usa.redcross.org (info@usa.redcross.org)

Subject: Katrina Assistance

To Whom It May Concern:

I live in the Lakeview section of New Orleans (70124) and applied for the
financial assistance over two months ago, but have yet to receive anything. I applied over the 1-800 number.

I am curious as to why it appears that I am one of the only people to have
yet received this financial assistance.

Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you.


The following is the response I received:

From: "Info"
To: "TAG

Subject: RE:'CaseID=***-***'Katrina Assistance

Date: Thu, 29 Dec 2005 12:38:56 -0500

Dear Troy:

Thank you for contacting the American Red Cross. The Red Cross has provided immediate emergency assistance to households severely impacted by the Hurricanes.

At this time, American Red Cross emergency assistance has ended.
We realize that many individuals and families still might have unmet needs. Primary sources to assist you in further recovery are community and state resources and FEMA at 800 621-FEMA; that's 800 621- 3362.

To access contact information for all state social service agencies, including links to their websites, please visit: http://www.aphsa.org/home/StateContacts.asp
We wish you every success through your recovery period.

Thank you for your inquiry!

Sincerely,

American Red Cross Public Inquiry


I gave up at this point until January 24th after I watched a news segment on CNN informing how Congress was beginning to investigate the Red Cross for improperly handling of individual's generous contributions, mis-spending and mis-allocation of funds and paying gross salaries to the top layers of their beauracracy while living off the goodwill of thousands of volunteers.

I immediately went and emailed the Red Cross the following:

From : TAG
Sent : Tuesday, January 24, 2006 9:31 PM

To : info@usa.redcross.org

CC :

Subject : RE:'CaseID=***-***'Katrina Assistance

Thank you for your reponse - BUT LET ME REITTERATE TO YOU THE FOLLOWING.

FOR OVER TWO MONTHS FOLLOWING HURRICANE KATRINA I ATTEMPTED TO WAIT THROUGH GROSS LINES AND DISCONNECTIONS ON YOUR 800 NUMBER IN ORDER TO RECEIVE ANY ASSISTANCE FROM THE RED CROSS.

ON OR ABOUT LATE OCTOBER I LEFT NEW ORLEANS AND STOOD IN A SHORT RED CROSS LINE IN FRANKLIN, LOUISIANA WHERE JUST BEFORE I WAS ABOUT TO ENTER THE PROCESSING AREA A RED CROSS MANAGER CAME OUT AND SAID SORRY THEY WERE CLOSING DOWN FOR THE DAY (THIS WAS AT NOON) BECAUSE THE VOLUNTEERS WERE EXHAUSTED.

THEY WERE EXHAUSTED?! HOW THE HELL DO YOU THINK
I AND THE OTHERS IN LINE WITH ME FELT?!!!!

LATER, I FINALLY WAS ABLE TO REGISTER FOR THE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE OVER THE PHONE BEFORE THE RED CROSS CUTOFF DATE FOR ASSISTANCE.

ALL OF MY INFORMATION WAS TAKEN DOWN AND PROCESSED - YET I HAVE NEVER RECEIVED ANY ASSISTANCE OF ANY KIND FROM THE RED CROSS.

I FIND IT COMPLETELY DISGUSTING THAT THE RED CROSS CONTINUES TO SOLICIT DONATIONS FROM AMERICANS FOR THIS DISASTER YET HAS COMPLETELY MOVED ON FROM NEW ORLEANS TO GO SPEND THIS HEARTFELT MONEY ON LAYERS OF BEAURACRACY.

YOU SHOULD ALL BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES!

Sincerely,

Within a day or two, I received a reply requesting all of my information again. Today I received this:













So I do very specifically want to thank everyone who did donate to the Red Cross, as I've done in the past. This $360 disaster assistance will be directly spent in Orleans Parish and preferably in a few restaurants (owned only by New Orleanians) where I can tip my waiters mightily and thereby get these funds to make their rounds a few times in New Orleans.

But to the Red Cross - you had better get your act together.

Hopefully Katrina will be another schooling for another beauracracy in order that the losses and degredations that happened to the people of this city will never happen to anyone else in this country during their time of need.

2 Comments:

Blogger mta55 said...

All I have to say - is spend it quick! Even though the small print on the back of the card says you have 90 days, Red Cross pulled all their money and closed our card after 14 days!!!! When we called, they said that was plenty of time and shame on us for not using it! They did not replace it. I will NEVER donate to Red Cross again - they are a sham.

6:10 AM, February 01, 2006  
Blogger Easton Ellsworth said...

Very thoughtful to spend that money where it could stay in New Orleans. I'm getting a much better sense now of how top-level bureaucracy caused or worsened a lot of problems, despite the many thousands of willing and helpful people.

3:55 PM, August 18, 2006  

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