Saturday, October 01, 2005

Red Cross closed

The following appears courtesy of the Sun Herald:
Issac Trevino and Juan Carlos Martinez pulled up to the Red Cross Financial Assistance center on Switzer Road in Biloxi Saturday morning in their dilapidated green sedan after a long work week hoping to ease their post-Katrina lives.
It was one of the few free moments they said they could spare to find some extra assistance for themselves and their families, but there was almost no one to be found there.
"We need some help," Martinez said while sighing and tossing his hands
into the air. "What can we do now?"
Every Red Cross Financial Assistance center was closed Saturday in South Mississippi, except for one in Picayune, because officials decided late in the day Friday that they needed to spend the weekend catching up on the 70,000 claims filed last week, said Vicky Brown, a Red Cross spokeswoman.
The late decision to close left literally hundreds of residents and some volunteers standing around without a clue Saturday morning, including many who had been standing in line most of Friday only to see the centers closed and be told to return the following morning.
Red Cross Volunteer Romy Simpson said she had no idea the centers would be closed when she showed up to work at 8 a.m. Saturday morning at the Switzer Road center. She said hundreds of others seeking help had no idea either.
"There was a man who arrived in a cab from Louisiana," Simpson said. "A lady came from Baton Rouge with a bunch of her neighbors because she was having a hard time getting help there. It was kind of sad to see them there."
Even Tremingo Keys, a security guard for the Switzer Road center, expressed surprise at the Red Cross’s late decision to close.
"They didn’t say anything until yesterday evening after we closed," Keys said.
Ken Geisler, 48, showed up around 11 a.m. Saturday on Switzer Road sweating and looking exhausted after taking the bus from East Biloxi.
"This is beyond frustrating," Geisler said, adding that he listened to the radio all morning and heard nothing about the centers being closed. The fact that a center nearly 60 miles away in Picayune was open was no solace to him.
"That’s nice if you’re not broke," Geisler said. "I was hoping to at least buy a tent. I’m sleeping in the woods."
Geisler, a retired Air Force veteran, kicked a pebble and slowly turned around to head back to the bus and eventually on to his wooded home.
He said he was at the end of his rope with aid agencies after the storm.
"I’ve gone about as far as I can with FEMA, "Geisler said, adding that the Red Cross was one of his last hopes. "They don’tthink they’re hurting anybody but they are."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good God! And I thought I was doing the "right thing" by donating to this organization! Maybe they've been this way for a long time, and I am just now seeing it, but I'm starting to regard them the same way I've come to regard other large charities - a self-aggrandizement machine for those in board-room positions.

Thank you for being the "voice in the wilderness" on this whole disaster. This entire blog should be published in book form after all this is over.

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard that the American Red Cross is not even using Katrina donated money for this relief effort that they are still thriving off the monetary donations from 9/11. I was also told by somoene who works for red cross not to donate money to them to donate it to a faith based oorganization beacuse it will get used in the right way.

7:37 PM  
Blogger JC said...

That poor, poor man. But for the grace of God, there go I. We need to all take note. I am wondering how much money has poured into the Red Cross coffers in the past month? I also wonder why he has gone about as far as he can with fema? I am not sure if that meant that they weren't going to help, hadn't helped yet, are helping but not fast enough? Good night!

11:01 PM  
Blogger toosano said...

It's obvious from your blog that you are taking a stand against the Red Cross. It's clear they are having some kind of major problems down there. Perhaps they are just overwhelmed from the sheer volume of destruction and/or short on manpower?
Not that I see how though, given the amount of money they've had thrown at them to help with the hurricane relief.
My question to you is, what do you think the Red Cross should change to fix this apparent disorganization? Have they addressed any of the issues or do they think they are handling it all just fine?

5:25 AM  
Blogger SingingOwl said...

I just got back from Mississippi. I can vouch for the fact that the faith-based organizations are the ones getting it done. See my finally completed Katrina Report at

I can tell you for certain that donations made to Convoy of Hope are getting to victims...and they are taking NO overhead right now. 100% of the donations are going to relief.

Thanks again, Josh, for the wonderful work. My thoughts are with all of you.

7:19 PM  
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