Residents across Texas are expressing their outrage at The Red Cross after Hurricane Harveyvictims and relief volunteers witnessed mismanagement and apathy from Red Cross workers. One of the most dramatic stories came from Lindsey Scott, who brought 400 warm hamburgers to a shelter, but was not allowed to distribute them by Red Cross workers, who put the hot meals on ice, despite the fact that evacuees in their shelter had only had so much as a sandwich in 24 hours.
At Wednesday morning’s Houston City Counsel meeting, Councilman Dave Martin, who represents flood-ravaged Kingwood, had a very clear message to prospective donors of The Red Cross.
“I beg you not to send them a penny,” he said. “They are the most inept unorganized organization I’ve ever experienced. Don’t waste your money. Give it to another cause.”
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett was also uncomplimentary of the organization. Judge Emmett admitted that he asked a local nonprofit to manage the shelter at NRG Park, because he didn’t trust The Red Cross to do a good job.
“The Red Cross could not have done this,” Emmett said. “They wouldn’t have had the wherewithal to do it. Don’t get me wrong, they’re out there on the front lines, but I had already seen the difficulty and we needed to get this set up quickly.”
And government officials are far from the only ones voicing their disapproval. We’ve seen story after story of Red Cross mismanagement expressed by both evacuees and volunteers across Texas. In fact, we’ve been hard pressed to find a positive story. When we do find one, we will update this article.
Here are a few of the latest social media posts about The Red Cross in Texas:
Disorganized & Understaffed
My oldest son took their expensive life guard / CPR / First Aid course this summer and was registered with them for shelters. A shelter was set up at the school down the road from us due to Harvey and he wasn’t called. Normally I would think it is because they had enough volunteers but they didn’t and kept begging for volunteers over the weekend. Evidently their system is not so great to put volunteers with evacuees.
I’m astonished at the behavior of the Red Cross husband / wife team at the mid-county Jack Brooks Airport yesterday, who together accosted me and took turns berating me because I was trying to bring 400 warm hamburgers to our hungry evacuees, who according to them did not need the food because they had “already had a sandwich.” Yes, they had one sandwich in 24 hours. They were desperate for a hot meal!
The Red Cross proceeded to try and load the warm, ready-to-eat burgers into an ice chest. The pilot, who had donated his time, fuel, money, plane, and arranged the delivery of the burgers, was horrified at not being able to serve them (he actually came to volunteer as well). I confess I just stood there with my mouth gaping open, fighting back tears while they told me that I did not know what I was doing and they had not even seen me volunteering. This is not a normal reaction for me but either exhaustion or pregnancy hormones got the best of me because I simply couldn’t find the words to fight back.
The Red Cross was not there at 6:30 AM when we got there to find we had no food to serve the hundreds of evacuees, who had sat on a bus all night, and some who had not eaten in 24 hours. They were not there when the sun came up and they woke up hungry, angry, tired, scared, and frustrated. They did not see them fighting over donuts that OUR friends and family answered the call to bring at 7:00 AM. They did not see the tears over dehydrated babies while we worked to arrange the delivery of Pedialyte and formula. They showed up HOURS later, when we had already coordinated the delivery of food and supplies with our LOCAL community members (who came out in droves) and The Sky Hope Network through our wonderful State Representative, Dade Phelan [Beaumont], after just a single phone call.
And the reason they didn’t see me (sweating and sunburned) is because I spent most of the day on the aviation side of the airport on the tarmac coordinating the landing, unloading, and transport of supplies the Sky Hope Network was flying in all day (which was no easy feat considering the insane, chaotic state of the Jerry Ware terminal). I do not care they weren’t there (I understand the vast, severe, damage that ranges from Corpus, Rockport, Houston, all the way to Louisiana). I do, however, care how they treated the people of our community when they arrived!
These supplies / donations were made by OUR LOCAL community members and the Sky Hope Network (not the Red Cross) and the Red Cross wanted them all shipped to their warehouse for processing and distribution.
Apparently they don’t do “local distribution.” Say what?! We need these things here, locally, NOW. And while we refused to turn away anyone who came on foot or by other means (evacuee or not) or any other church, group, or organization asking for supplies, the Red Cross tried to prevent us from sharing OUR donations (contributed by our community for our community and surrounding areas). The kids that are barefoot need shoes NOW, not two weeks from now, and we had more than enough to share.
And the way these two representatives of Red Cross treated local people who were donating their time (many in the wake of having lost everything of their own) and spending countless hours away from their kids and families in the wake of such tragedy hurts my heart. I pray this is not representative of the Red Cross organization as a whole. People who donate their money would be horrified. I’m thankful for our local volunteers who continued to fight with them (when I could not) and saw that the burgers and supplies were distributed to ALL those that needed them. As, OUR motto is, we turn no one away.
One thing I learned from this is THANK GOD I’m from TEXAS. Our men may spit, smoke, dip, cuss, and drink from time to time, but when the shit hits the fan, our husbands, brothers, dads, uncles, cousins, sons, and all the other men we know put on their boots, waders and get their boats and trucks and go to work! They aren’t afraid to get dirty or work long hours in the dark. They aren’t afraid of a little water, or snakes, or dogs that aren’t kenneled. They are strong enough to carry you out of your home and they can deal with being hungry, wet, cold, and tired (they deal with this sitting in deer and duck blinds half the year). They have the know how to save your animals (horses, cows, etc) and they WON’T QUIT until the work is done. And our community will answer the call to donate, collect and distribute supplies and food wherever it’s needed. I won’t be waiting on the Red Cross.
“We Are Not A Shelter. Don’t Touch That Cot”
Last night I experienced Red Cross first hand. I decided to go and volunteer at the Burton where Red Cross was in charge. I walked in signed a paper and was told to sit at the front where evacuees were coming in and write a tally mark on a piece of paper for every single water bottle I handed out to people. I sat there and saw these people getting off these buses soaking wet; no shoes, tiny babies, elderly people who literally had a trash bag and that was it. I had people come up to me and ask for shoes, hygiene products, and just anything they could get their hands on because these people literally walked in with NOTHING but the clothes on their back. I had to tell them to ask the Red Cross employee that was sitting in a chair down the hall.
I was listening to what that employee was saying to them when they asked for stuff. One lady who came in with nothing was asking her where she could find toothpaste and the Red Cross employee looked at her and said, “Oh, I don’t think we have any of that. We are not a shelter.”
Luckily, some good volunteers forced their way in with all kinds of donations, so I pointed the lady in that direction. I knew I could not just sit there and tally water bottles. Like, why does it matter how much water you hand out? These people have NOTHING!
So, I started helping with handing out those donations that were brought in. Another thing was that these Red Cross employees (there were 7 of them at the Burton mind you) were loading up these people on buses and making them sit there for sometimes 2-3 hours at a time before sending them off. Someone asked a Red Cross employee if they were making sure the evacuees on the bus needed water or needed to get off to use the restroom because these people had been sitting on the bus for hours. The Red Cross employee responded with, “It is not my job to do that. My job is to stand here and monitor who is getting on the bus.”
I am just completely mind-blown by how awful this organization is. If people wouldn’t have forced their way in last night with donations those people would have sat in their soaking wet clothes.
I wish I would have taken pictures of the things the Red Cross had set up. They were giving these people three MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) each, a bottle of water, a blanket, and a little ziplock baggy of snacks for the little kids. These people needed so much more than that. They also had cots set up, but started putting them up when people started asking to use them because they were only for medical emergencies only. But they had at least a few hundred of them stacked up in the back of the Burton.
I am just totally disgusted with the Red Cross. I can’t tell you how many times I got yelled at by a Red Cross employee for trying to help people. I was told, “Don’t touch that cot, it’s not for these people.” Then who are they for? TOTALLY DISGUSTED. Please, believe people when they say this organization is HORRIBLE.
I’m not sure who the [non-Red Cross volunteer] people were. All I know is that their last name was Bertrand and they were from Lake Charles. They brought pizza and pasta for all the evacuees because the Red Cross wasn’t offering hot meals because they aren’t a “shelter.” It was just so sad.
A Lengthy Wait to Volunteer
I was going to volunteer with them but I had to fill out an application and it took about four days for them to get back to me. Then they asked me to fill out the paperwork for a background check. Whatever. I just found something on my own, no questions asked.
No Infants or Elderly Allowed
So, today I went to go volunteer at the Toyota center downtown Houston because I heard they needed help. The shift to help was 2pm – 10pm. I accepted it. First thing that rubbed me wrong was that they said they’re only taking 30 volunteers. I didn’t think nothing of it. I was like, maybe they already have a lot of people inside helping so they only need 30 more. So anyways, I go inside, and they instantly put me as manager of the kitchen. After my duties were done I went to see where the carts were for people to sleep on [because] it was entirely too quiet. Those images below is the reason why.
I asked two head men in charge why there were so many carts available, and he said because they aren’t letting people with infants, elderly, or singles in. They said no infants because the diaper mess, elderly it would be too much dealing with them as in care, and singles (well he didn’t say a reason for them). At that very moment I felt irate. I told him how unacceptable it was to have so much room but to not accept people because they’re lazy. Then I said, “Okay, so what about other families that none of that applies to, at the shelter down the street, that are in the hallways and on the floors, can they come over here?” He says, “Well no, they have to be selected.” I said, “Well, how do they get selected?”
Now, if y’all know me, y’all know I started to feel myself getting real [indignant]. CRAZY thing is, he didn’t have an answer. At that very moment, I had to walk off before I went completely to the left on them. The police officers had no clue that was going on until I told them, and even they were upset [along] with me. They started making calls so hopefully they handled it, but I left and took my service where it was needed. I do not support the Red Cross and will never ever deal with them again.
Refusing Formula To Babies, Food To Hungry Kids
Featured Image: Lisa Sailor photographed some of the provisions on the third flood of the George R. Brown Convention Center which the Red Cross was withholding from shelter evacuees.
I have never made a post about a political statement or what could be a diversive opinion on social media. I love and respect all my friends and don’t feel I want to get involved in a debate over any issue on Facebook. That being said I just can’t keep my mouth shut any longer. The view I have from my wheelchair is the American Red Cross should be ashamed of what’s going on with our displaced neighbors sheltered in Houston at GRB [George R. Brown] Convention Center.
My husband and I along with several others from our building directly across the street from the GRB were the first people to welcome those that evacuated when the doors opened at the GRB. I’ve been working over there every day most days 12-16 hrs to see that people have what they need. My area of focus is women and children. Red Cross, please help me understand why there are moms in the shelter who need blankets. There are plenty of blankets with your logo on them up on the third floor. The people that need them are on the first floor. There is no logistics of an inventory system, a way to locate supplies, a way to get them down to the first floor or a way to distribute them.
Someone desperately needs a wheelchair but is told there aren’t any. Oh really? There are plenty on the third floor. I have babies with no formula. Why? Because no one at the Red Cross thought to order the kind of formula that WIC requires them to be on. I go and start sounding the alarm that we need ONE certain kind of formula for 90% of these babies. No one wants to listen to me. We have some of the correct kind up on the 3rd floor but, “Lady, you can’t take that. The Red Cross wants to hand it out.” Are you kidding me? Well, when and where? Do I tell a 2 month old that he needs to wait until a certain day? Not just baby formula. It’s this way with every supply these people need just to survive in the shelter.
They have Red Cross volunteers over the large convention halls where people have their cots set up. Whole families have made little “camps” together. They are doing their best to make it work. A mother with four small children was called to the media area to do an interview with a nat’l network. When she came back ALL of her few worldly possessions that she gathered in the past week at the shelter were stolen. Why? Because the Red Cross volunteer let this woman down by not keeping an eye on the area that they were assigned.
I know of a family that had just registered into the shelter with children go to the food distribution area. They asked a regular volunteer if they could have something to eat because they hadn’t eaten for over 24 hrs. The regular vol went to grab them food off of a table in full view of these kids. A Red Cross representative said, “No, you can’t give them anything. It’s not meal time”. The reg Volunteer couldn’t believe his ears. He had to turn away hungry kids. Unbelievable.
A nine months pregnant mom in labor with three other young children under the age of six had to go to the hospital to deliver. No family / friends / father / husband in the shelter. The ambulance would not let her take her kids with her. I went to the Red Cross desk and explained the problem. I said I wanted to be granted “emergency disaster guardianship” over her kids. I was told, “Oh no, we can’t allow that. We could get sued.” When I rolled away I said very loudly “just watch me do it.” There was no other choice. I took the kids and with in 4-6 hours they were with a relative. What did the RC expect? To throw them outside in the rain?? They had no alternative.
I’m a volunteer and know more about how to fill their needs than any Red Cross person there. I don’t understand why it is this way. These are just a few of the stories. My frustration is at an all time high. It’s not with the people I’ve been helping. It’s with the organization that’s standing in the way of that help. Please, please when you are donating to relief think about this. There are so many organizations that are doing a wonderful job of serving others. To the Red Cross: please learn some valuable lessons from Harvey. Our nation that donates every dollar you use for relief, deserves better.