econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 08 August 2016

After Louisiana Flooding, The Red Cross Draws A Deluge Of Complaints

Special Report from ProPublica

-- this post authored by Sarah Smith

Emergency managers in Louisiana turned to the Red Cross when record floods swept the state in March, but many say they received little help.

The Red Cross' Louisiana stumble came during a record-breaking flood in early March. Above, Louisiana National Guard and Bossier Parish Sheriff personnel assist people who were evacuated during the flooding. (AP Photo/)Gerald Herbert/AP Photo)

Three months after record floods swept through Louisiana in March, the government officials in charge of disaster response set up a post-mortem with area Red Cross staffers.

The meeting's purpose: Airing officials' many complaints with the charity's performance.

A parish emergency manager wrote in an email eliciting the specifics of local officials' experiences:

"Basically, during the Miss. River flooding and the recent severe weather events, most of the Parishes who reached out to the American Red Cross were not happy with the assistance they received or did not get some or any assistance that was requested from them."

He compiled their responses into a page of talking points for the June 28 meeting. Among the most common gripes: That there had been so much turnover at the Red Cross that government emergency managers didn't know who to call for assistance; that Red Cross staffers didn't call emergency managers back; and that the Red Cross didn't provide enough shelter support.

"American Red Cross was a HUGE disappointment," Dawn Williams, the emergency manager for Richland Parish, said in a May 24 email responding to the call-out.

"They made commitments that they didn't keep and then chastised us for rejecting them. Nothing was resolved from our numerous sit-down meetings we had with [the American Red Cross] and their representatives."

The Red Cross, which was chartered by Congress in 1900, is supposed to provide disaster support alongside government agencies as part of its mission. But the problems during the Red Cross' Louisiana response are similar to the ones state officials complained of in Mississippi at the same time, and follow a pattern of failures since the charity's reorganization since 2008, when it cut back both local chapters and staffing.

The Red Cross' Louisiana stumble came during a record-breaking flood in early March, when four days of nonstop rain damaged 5,000 homes. The White House issued disaster declarations for 37 out of the state's 64 parishes.

Williams wrote that the Red Cross had stopped providing Richland Parish with food after six days, apparently because it erroneously concluded the parish's shelter was closing. The Red Cross did eventually bring supplies to the northern parish - but only after the shelter had closed, Williams said.

One Red Cross staffer told Williams, according to her email, that:

"They do not do well with these types of disasters. They are more of a house fire type disaster relief agency."

In response to a list of questions from ProPublica, the Red Cross sent a statement.

Elizabeth Penniman, the Red Cross vice president of communications, in the emailed statement, said:

"You have asked us to comment on a handful of emails and quotes from four emergency managers and three residents out of the 37 parishes and the 9,000 Louisianans we served regarding a complicated response effort spanning more than half of Louisiana. Very simply, these emails and quotes are not representative of the Red Cross response in Louisiana."

The state actually gave an award to the Louisiana Red Cross disaster program officer Bruce Cuber, praising him as "the one Red Cross person in this state that everyone trusts" and thanking him profusely for his work.

Cuber, according to the emails obtained by ProPublica, served as the main point of contact for state officials when a problem arose.

Still, officials in parishes like Richland came away deeply dissatisfied. Calcasieu Parish, which sits on the southern border between Texas and Louisiana, didn't fare much better.

"'Red Cross' was a nasty word around here," said Rob Tibbitts, a Calcasieu Parish pastor. His church is on one of the roads that was designated as an evacuation line during the flooding. The nearby Sabine River crested at a record high, sending floodwaters 3.5 miles into each state. Flooding damaged 705 homes in Calcasieu Parish alone.

Tibbitts, who has been pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church for the past 23 years, helped organize religious groups that fed first responders and flood evacuees, making as many as 800 meals a day. A few weeks in, stretched to their limit, Tibbitts asked the nonprofit Southern Baptist Disaster Relief to send a mobile kitchen for help with the feeding process.

Tibbitts said:

"We can't send a kitchen until the Red Cross sends a voucher."

On March 22, after the Red Cross signed a voucher for three days' worth of food, the mobile kitchen arrived. Tibbitts said it took several days for the issues to be resolved.

Even after that, Tibbitts said, the Red Cross' support was never certain. Every day, Tibbitts and local officials had to negotiate with the charity to stay. State emergency officials finally had to have a conference call with the Red Cross to resolve the problem, during which they got the charity to guarantee it would continue providing meals in Calcasieu Parish until April 22. The Red Cross' disaster relief operation director sent a confirmation to the state by email.

The Red Cross, Calcasieu Parish emergency manager Dick Gremillion said, seemed to treat the flood damage - which requires long-term recovery assistance - more like a hurricane.

"If there's a hurricane, you can tarp the roof," the longtime emergency manager explained.

"With a flood, water gets in the house, gets in everything you own."

Gremillion called the Red Cross volunteers "good-hearted" people who "show a lack of training." Over the time he's worked in emergency management, he's seen a revolving door of Red Cross staff and steadily worsening capabilities.

He said:

"They tell you they specialize in running shelters, but they don't have the people."

When floodwaters rose rapidly in southeast Louisiana's St. Tammany Parish, residents who looked to the Red Cross for help found little relief.

Tiffany McGary-Cyprian, a nurse living in St. Tammany with her husband and two of her four children, launched a drive to give away clothing and cleaning supplies, gathering donations in an empty commercial building. She called the Red Cross when more people than she could help gathered, some sleeping in the parking lot.

She said:

"That number they give you, it's a joke. I was calling and calling and couldn't get through to anybody."

She finally got the cellphone for Mike Kimball, then the disaster response manager for the charity's Southeast Louisiana chapter.

When McGary-Cyprian asked what supplies the Red Cross could distribute, Kimball told her, "'We don't have any drivers,'" McGary-Cyprian said. She and other volunteers drove back and forth to the Red Cross facility to get the supplies themselves.

When she called again to ask what to do with the people still curled up in cars in front of the center, she said Kimball told her,

"Whatever you do, don't send them to the facility."

The Red Cross did not make Kimball available for comment.

Eventually, Red Cross staffers told McGary-Cyprian they'd come to her distribution center and start registering people for assistance the next morning. They showed up to a line of over 60 people and did intake for 20 before declaring the center too hot and leaving, McGary-Cyprian said.

No one came back to register the others, she added. The Red Cross did provide several days of meals and staffers drove down to unload cleaning supplies in the center's parking lot.

Ellis McClain, a 71-year-old St. Tammany resident, said that her daughter drove her and several other senior citizens up to the Red Cross facility to see what help they could get. The Red Cross helped her replace her medicine, she said, but did not fulfill a promise to replace the cane she lost when her home was flooded.

McClain said, sitting in her half-rebuilt house:

"We went out over there and we never did get to see the people in the building."

Others from the parish had similar experiences.

Senator: Red Cross Misled Congress, Refused To 'Level With the People' on Haiti Money

"One of the reasons they don't want to answer the questions is it's very embarrassing," says Sen. Charles Grassley, who just finished a yearlong investigation of the Red Cross. Read the story.


We Want You to Help Report on the Red Cross

Introducing the Red Cross Reporting Network. Learn more.


One person wrote in a St. Tammany Facebook group created for flood relief:

"It's a shame we have such a big Red Cross and can't even get them to answer our phone calls."

"The Red Cross just said they were coming, but they didn't do anything," said Starlin Daigrepont, a St. Tammany Parish grandmother who helped make calls on behalf of flood victims to try to get them assistance.

"They didn't do much at all."

St. Tammany Parish's emergency manager, Dexter Accardo, said he had no problem with the Red Cross' response.

At the June 28 meeting, Cuber and the other members of the Red Cross team listened to parish complaints that focused mainly on communication breakdowns and what the Red Cross can and cannot provide. The emergency managers and Red Cross officials planned to follow up offline to resolve the issues.

Cuber said in the meeting:

"We have challenges, we understand that, We want to move forward and address that as best we can and be transparent as best we can."

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.



You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.





Econintersect Contributors


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
The Expected Effects of Petitions to Improve the Monetary System
Energy and Falling Productivity
News Blog
September 2016 Conference Board Consumer Confidence Now At Highest Level Since the Great Recession
Richmond Fed Manufacturing Survey Remains In Contraction In September 2016.
September 2016 Chemical Activity Barometer Continues to Signal Improving Economic Growth
Case-Shiller Home Price Index July 2016 Year-over-Year Rate of Growth Decelerates
Between Geopolitics And Technology
Infographic Of The Day: See Every Single Part Inside An IPhone
Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Europa Water Plumes, All About The Debate, Putin Reacts To Debate, Oblivious Students, India Rocket Success, China Profits Surge And More
September 26, 2016 Weather and Climate Report - Not Quite the Camino Real
The Dominant Forces In The U.S. Gun Market
69 Percent Of Americans Have Less Than One Thousand Dollars In Savings
Average Gasoline Prices for Week Ending 26 September 2016 Unchanged
Genetic Studies Reveal Diversity Of Early Human Populations - And Pin Down When We Left Africa
Earnings And Economic Reports: Week Starting 26 September 2016
Investing Blog
Monday Morning Call 26 September
We're Back Here We Started
Opinion Blog
Housing Inflation- A Simple Case Of Supply And Demand Exacerbated By Low Rates
Heading For A Fall? With Summer Over, Europe Must Face Up To Its Mounting Crises
Precious Metals Blog
War On Cash Turns To $20, $50, And $100 Bills
Live Markets
27Sep2016 Pre-Market Commentary: Wall Street Futures Flat, Crude Prices Down, Indicators Bearish To Neutral
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government



Crowdfunding ....






























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved