You know, when I was putting together the previous entry, I thought I had done my due diligence…
I did a Google News search for “Marty Evans” just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.
Well, lo and behold, just a little bit later stuff start spilling out on the Red Cross Congressional hearings, and the resignation of “Marsha Evans.”
Yeah, her resignation is going to raise a hell of a lot of red flags for those people who aren’t plugged into the reasons I outlined previously. But what are you to do?
Well, first of all, you take on some of the assumptions in the Brian Ross piece on ABC.
After both hurricanes, many local officials complained the Red Cross was often missing from the worst-hit areas. Survivors found it impossible to get through on the organization’s phone hot lines. And witnesses today claimed the Red Cross turned away victims who were disabled.
“One Red Cross official told me, ‘We aren’t supposed to help these people, we can’t hardly help the intact people,’” said Marcie Roth, executive director of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.
First of all, you aren’t going to find Red Cross volunteers in the “hardest-hit areas” because as a rule, they aren’t safe. We don’t set up shelters in places that are inherently dangerous.
Phone problems? You betcha. Point taken.
As for the remark about the disabled being turned away… I’d like to know more about that specific allegation. Speaking on behalf of what I know with regards to Alabama, the Red Cross here does not operate medical needs shelters. If there are any folks with specialized needs for life-saving equipment, power, or medical supervision, it’s not our thing. Couple that with the fact that there were so many untrained spontaneous volunteers pressed into service, and I can see where someone was directed to an appropriate facility by someone who did not have the knowledge nor the sensitivity to explain why.
(Side note: find me any organization with 220,000 “associates” where there are customer service issues raised.)
More from the ABC piece:
Leaders of other charities say Red Cross’ ability to raise money â€” $1.8 billion after Hurricane Katrina â€” outpaces its ability to spend it wisely. “Their reputation is that of a charity quick off the mark to raise funds but very slow in spending it effectively,” said Richard Walden, president of Operation USA.
For anyone with knowledge of how the Red Cross operates and the role it plays, this statement is laughable. From Day 1 with Katrina (and going back to pre-landfall) the organization was spending the money just about as fast as it came in. “Other charities” aren’t tasked with immediate response. “Other charities” don’t open evacuation shelters. And in what is the ultimate slap, “other charities” work hand-in-hand with the Red Cross, which is able to coordinate assitance to eliminate duplication of services. When you’re asked to be the first link in the chain of recovery, you don’t sit back for several days and wait for the checks to clear.
I cannot claim psychic knowledge of the balance sheet for every day of the operation, but I’d be willing to bet that the dollars coming in didn’t sit for more than a day or so at most. In fact, there were several days the ARC was operating on float. That’s not something you’d ever want to publicize to donors, because no one likes the idea of their contribution going to retire a debt — they want it to go to direct service.
Sorry for the rant — but man, this crawls under my skin. Bring the criticism, but bring it from a level field.