Sunday, September 7, 2008

Red Cross Responsible for Federal Relief Efforts

I thought it was FEMA, but I stand corrected.

"The Red Cross has federal responsibility for providing relief to the nation's biggest catastrophes but operates largely on private donations and receives little government money."

"Gustav puts Red Cross deep in debt; Agency to launch fund-raising push as storms line up" by Philip Rucker, Washington Post | September 7, 2008

WASHINGTON - The American Red Cross said that it is going deep into debt to fund a $70 million Hurricane Gustav relief effort, an unusual occurrence even as the nation's biggest disaster-aid charity braces for more powerful storms.

Definitely sounds like government!

The Red Cross has raised less than $5 million toward its Gustav expenses, officials said. To recoup its Gustav cost - most of it borrowed money - the nonprofit organization plans to roll out an aggressive national campaign tomorrow.

In 2005, the Red Cross borrowed money for the first time in its 127-year history when it took out a $340 million loan to help pay for its $2 billion response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The nonprofit organization quickly raised the money to cover the debt.

But since Gustav weakened as it churned in the Gulf Coast, Americans struggling in a soft economy have not responded with an outpouring of giving as they did three years ago when Katrina left indelible images of devastation and suffering. Gustav spared New Orleans the death and destruction that forecasters predicted, but also dampened donations to the Red Cross, which mounted one of its largest mobilizations in years.

That's what happens when government gins up a storm for political purposes, because that appears to be what happened now.

Joe Becker, senior vice president for Red Cross disaster services.

The gap between Gustav expenses and donations is occurring at a perilous time for relief groups. An unusually high number of US disasters this year has taxed charities - from wildfires in California to tornadoes across the South. With their resources depleted, the same charities are mounting efforts for Tropical Storm Hanna, which is lashing the Eastern Seaboard this weekend, and Hurricane Ike, which could hit Florida tomorrow, and Tropical Storm Josephine.

But we have $$$ to REBUILD GEORGIA!!!

And keep those storms coming, huh?

Keep Georgie and the assholes on their toes, will ya, God?

Massive power outages in Louisiana have forced the Red Cross to open more shelters in the New Orleans area and serve half a million hot meals each day.

"The 700,000 or 800,000 people without power is causing us to launch a tremendous feeding operation on a scale that's much bigger than we were thinking," Becker said. "We're borrowing the money. As hard as it might be to raise the $70 million that this one costs, now we've got Hanna and Ike and Josephine behind it."

Other nonprofit groups also prepared for the worst in Gustav and provided shelter, food, and clothing for thousands of evacuees. The Salvation Army spent in excess of $1 million on Gustav, but has raised just $30,000 to cover it. Save the Children spent more than $100,000 on diapers, cots, and bassinets at shelters, but has raised only $35,000. Catholic Charities USA, which has spent more than $200,000, has taken in $10,000.

The charities could collect more donations in coming days, but with Gustav nearly gone from the headlines, some officials fear they might not break even.

"The attention of the general public moved off Hurricane Gustav so quickly," said Jeffrey Towers, Red Cross chief development officer. "People were expecting something so dramatic and vast relative to Katrina that when the storm came to shore less than a Category 4, the immediate response was, 'Oh, that wasn't so bad.' "

The Red Cross has federal responsibility for providing relief to the nation's biggest catastrophes but operates largely on private donations and receives little government money.