WASHINGTON, DC, November 8, 2017 — It is regrettable that a news organization such as USA Today would seek to discredit the work of the American Red Cross without presenting a shred of evidence to show where we “floundered” in our response to Hurricane Harvey. Their story is long on what it calls “gripes” and anecdotes, but short on any facts – even though the Red Cross provided eight pages of detailed answers to questions.
Here are a few examples of what USA Today reported and the facts:
“While some local officials were pleased with the Red Cross response, others argue more could have been done on the ground.”
• No clarification is given as to what more could have been done, and at this point the article doesn’t describe what the Red Cross did accomplish in Texas.
“One Texas lawmaker who represents a section of rain-pummeled Houston …said he’s had enough with the missteps and confusion.”
• What were the “missteps and confusion”? None are cited.
“Aubrey Dominguez returned to find his Rockport home completely gone, but was denied Red Cross assistance.”
• The Red Cross didn’t receive any application for financial assistance from Aubrey Dominguez; USA Today never asked the Red Cross to verify that Mr. Dominguez had actually applied for assistance.
“They’re supposed to help the people. They didn’t do that.” – Port Aransas Mayor Charles Bujan
• USA Today didn’t ask the Red Cross about our services in Port Aransas. If they had, we would have shared the following information about our response in Nueces County:Opened 5 shelters providing 2,737 overnight staysServed 41,751 meals and snacks Distributed 38,624 relief itemsProvided 6,557 health services and emotional support contacts
• In just the small town of Port Aransas (population 4,054), we have authorized payment of $400 to 721 households with 1,766 people in Port Aransas – for a total of $288,400 in direct financial assistance as of yesterday. That’s 43 percent of the total population of Port Aransas.
• Across Texas, the Red Cross has authorized more than $229 million in direct financial assistance to help more than 573,000 households severely affected by Hurricane Harvey, as of October 31.
“Cyndi Lee, who has lived in Aransas Pass for about 25 years, evacuated during the storm to a shelter in Austin that the Red Cross was helping to operate. While she saw no problems there and was ‘thankful for what they did in the moment, ‘getting her $400 was ‘a little chaotic.’”
• Not until the photo caption does the reader learn the Red Cross had actually provided even more help. “After registering her dog as a service dog, inspectors took issue with it and a Red Cross official worked with her family to pay for a hotel for three days so that she could stay with her dog.”
Only at the very end of a 1,600-word story does USA Today provide readers with actual facts (graphic below). And judging by these facts, it sure doesn’t look like the Red Cross “floundered” after Hurricane Harvey or any other disaster.