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Red Cross needs help after storms drain funds

Posted November 17, 2008
Updated November 18, 2008

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— After tornadoes touched down six times along a 100-mile track in North Carolina, American Red Cross volunteers responded quickly, bringing chainsaws to clear debris and food to nourish the displaced.

But after helping others, the Red Cross needs help itself to keep the charity out of debt.

Pansy Evans, of Kenly, said Red Cross volunteers were some of the first to reach out to her after winds destroyed the home she had lived in for 44 years.

"It's unbelievable what people has done for me. They've been so nice to me," said Evans, who has been staying with family.

The Red Cross delivered a $75 gift card to Evans to help buy food.

"It was wonderful," she said. "You don't know how much you appreciate things till it comes home to you."

On Sunday alone, the Red Cross fed 280 victims and volunteers at a shelter at Free Will Baptist Church in Kenly. The charity has put up 10 people in hotels and provided assistance to another 125 people displaced by the storm.

All that help takes money – about $20,000 for this disaster-relief effort, charity officials estimated. And after an active hurricane season across the country, the Red Cross' national disaster-relief fund has run out of money.

"The Red Cross earlier this year was actually borrowing money to pay for disaster relief," Barry Porter, with the Triangle Red Cross said. "We've raised $62 million. We're still $38 million short."

The national fund is the first place state and local chapters go to cover their expenses in disasters such as these tornadoes. Despite that deficit, the Red Cross will provide relief for the tornado victims, Porter pledged.

"You still must deliver the services. The family still needs food, shelter, clothing, and we're going to make sure they get it," he said.

The economic downturn has made harder for the charity to find donations, Gov. Mike Easley said.

"In times of disaster, you go to the Red Cross; they come through. They do a great job," he said. "But in tough economic times, when people need them most, it's when they get the fewest donations."

The governor urged those who want to help storm victims to direct donations to the Red Cross.

"This is a time when we need to remind people to help the Red Cross, because they're always out there, helping us," Easley said.

Checks should include "Wilson-Johnston tornado" in the memo line, and all donations can be mailed to:

American Red Cross
801 S. Third St.
Smithfield, N.C. 27577

11 Comments

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  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Nov 18, 2008

    ARC is not the only organization with bloating problems. I used to donate to the USO, and they kept mailing me junk mail and phone calls for more money. I now simply donate to the ARC specifically for "SERVICE TO THE ARMED FORCES". I do not donate to the ARC for anything else ... I go to other local and internation organizations who have demonstrated efficiencies in applying the donations for the people needing relief.

  • HdM Nov 18, 2008

    The Red Cross should focus on disaster relief instead of providing protest marchers with water, ice, and sports drinks, e.g. Jena, Louisiana, 20 September 2007.

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/jena.asp

  • ohmyteacher Nov 18, 2008

    When my community was in need due to floods, they were the last ones here and they wouldn't even give out clothes to people who were naked except for the towels they were wrapped in until several days after they arrived. I'm not a Red Cross Supporter any more. I think they need to be broken up into a group of smaller units and get rid of some of the top heavy bureacracy.According to one of the charity evaluation sites, the American Red Cross has over 3 BILLION dollars in assets--maybe they could use some of that. The President makes more money in one year that I could make in a hundred years so I'm not feeling very sorry for them.

  • jackadoo Nov 18, 2008

    I hoping the Red Cross HQ looks more like Walmarts, than GM's but I doubt it. Give locally. Churches and community groups, could adopt a family . The ARC will be long gone and these people will still need help.

  • ohmyteacher Nov 18, 2008

    According to one of the charity evaluation sites, the American Red Cross has over 3 BILLION dollars in assets--maybe they could use some of that. The President makes more money in one year that I could make in a hundred years so I'm not feeling very sorry for them. Also, when my community was in need due to floods, they were the last ones here and they wouldn't even give out clothes to people who were naked except for the towels they were wrapped in until several days after they arrived. I'm not a Red Cross Supporter any more. I think they need to be broken up into a group of smaller units and get rid of some of the top heavy bureacracy.

  • 07GoldWinger Nov 18, 2008

    According to the 2007 charity review from the BBB, some executives at the ARC rake in over $1M each. Wow! I think my money will go elsewhere.

  • 7Degrees Nov 18, 2008

    Well maybe if the Red Cross didn't have a 80%+ administrative cost then they could have money for the people that they serve. This is one of the worst charitable organizations for percentage of money spent on administrative costs. You would be much better off giving your donations to a local church in the area to provide aid to those impacted by these storms.

  • yeshoneyitsgreat Nov 18, 2008

    Katrina drained the Red Cross when they all came to North Carolina for shelter. Now we have tornados and we need help too. They better find the money. Keep it local.

  • Z Man Nov 18, 2008

    Hang in there red cross... my charitable contribution through my employer kicks in in January and I must say I was generous this time. Good organization and the best way to help our neighbors.

  • ghimmy51 Nov 18, 2008

    Maybe the national organization has changed since Liz Dole was head and we gave $500 million specifically due to appeals for 9-11 relief and it disappeared. They told us they knew best how to handle the money and the families of victims lost homes and the chance for college because they had to fight for every penny they got. The local people are exceptional. I wouldn't trust the "executives" with their perks as far as I could afford their trust funds.

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