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Texas Officials say Red Cross ‘no where to be found’

Staff Writer

Haiti Sentinel

CUERO, Texas, USA (sentinel.ht) – Officials in Texas are speaking out after millions of dollars collected by the Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey relief have not resulted in any real effort in their hard hit districts. A ProPublica article, presented here in part, outlined some of the complaints journalists have uncovered.

The Red Cross’ anemic response to Hurricane Harvey left officials in several Texas counties seething, emails obtained by ProPublica show. In some cases, the Red Cross simply failed to show up as it promised it would.

In DeWitt, a county of 20,000 where Harvey ripped apart the roof of a hotel, Emergency Management Coordinator Cyndi Smith upbraided a Red Cross official in a Sept. 9 email:

“Red Cross was not there as they were suppose[d] to be with the shelter and again no communication to what this is actually about and that you have been in DeWitt County doing anything.”

With fewer than 24 hours’ notice, Micah Dyer, a school superintendent in DeWitt County, was forced to run a shelter on his own in an unused district building that would eventually house 400 people. For the first three days the shelter was opened, only two Red Cross volunteers were there — neither had any experience running a shelter, Dyer said in an interview.

“Every hot meal came from us,” Dyer said. “[School district employees] had to go to our pantries and walk-in coolers and get whatever we could get so people would have food.” Dyer says the Red Cross didn’t appear with supplies until the fourth day of the storm, and didn’t bring enough cots or food for those housed in the shelter, he said. A significant portion of the Meals-Ready-to-Eat the charity did bring had gone bad, he said.

The charity contested his account, saying in a statement that it maintained two shelters in DeWitt County — including the one Dyer ran — “and recorded a total of 1,599 overnight stays.”

We have only a partial picture of the Red Cross’ response to the massive storm. ProPublica received emails through public records requests from several counties, large and small. But they don’t cover the full swath of the state affected by the storm.

Read the rest of this report on ProPublica.

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