Local News

Charity group borrows money to fund hurricane aid

Posted September 17, 2008 5:28 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2008 8:15 p.m. EDT

— Faced with tough economic times and the need for aid in Texas following Hurricane Ike, the local Red Cross has had to borrow money to provide relief efforts, officials said Wednesday.

Triangle Red Cross Executive Director Barry Porter said borrowing the funds was necessary because “disaster relief is something you must go do when tragedy strikes.”

The charity is borrowing against lines of credit from its creditors, Porter said. When funds are available the group will pay back the loans with interest.

The local chapter has sent about two dozen volunteers to help victims of Hurricane Ike in Texas.

The Salvation Army of Wake County is on standby to go to Texas.

The North Carolina Baptist Men uses church and individual donations to pay for disaster assistance trips. NCBM volunteers are currently in Baymont, Texas, helping victims of Ike. The group also helped feed Louisiana residents after Hurricane Gustav.

“I think the economy is not as good. There probably will be less money (raised) depending on how much attention this disaster gets,” NCBM Director Richard Brunson said.

After Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana and Mississippi, the Triangle Red Cross raised more than $5 million in two months. This hurricane season, the group has only raised $3,300. Porter believes the difference is because Katrina set a new standard for disasters.

“And if it doesn’t match to that, then well, it’s not as bad; therefore, I don’t need to give,” Porter said.

Jeff Nusz, a former resident of Raleigh, said the media helps portray how much aid is needed.

“The giving is more related to how the coverage has been and how big a story it’s been,” Nusz said.