One month ago, the massively powerful winds, rain, and floodwaters of Superstorm Sandy devastated much of New York and New Jersey, killing 60 in the region and causing more than $62billion in damage.
In the aftermath of the storm, relief groups offered their aid, but many have blasted the Red Cross for being absent in the areas hit hardest by the storm.
Many have slammed the organization for not helping families who needed the most relief and are asking what the Red Cross has done with the $150million in donations it has received.
New York-based activist Michelle Manning wrote a piece detailing her experiences volunteering in Sandy’s wake, published by the Daily Beast. What she saw was astounding.
She wrote that in the first two weeks following the storm, she saw Red Cross vehicles only twice, but had worked in the hard-hit Far Rockaways every day.
Ms Manning said: ‘The first time there were two white vans. Dazzlingly white. (Most of the relief vehicles, including my own, were filthy and battered.
‘This has been dirty work.) They weren’t at work. They weren’t handing out supplies. They were waiting for Governor Cuomo. For a photo-op.’
The other time, she said, was when President Obama was visiting the most devastated areas of Staten Island.
The activist wrote that in every case she has seen out in the field, the Red Cross was underprepared and not stocked with necessities.
In one instance, she said, Red Cross workers asked volunteers for water to hand out ‘because they didn’t have any themselves – $150million should buy a few bottles of water.’
But Ms Manning hasn’t been the only one to notice the obvious absence of the relief organization.
In a November 1 press conference, Staten Island Borough President Jim Molinaro called the organization an ‘absolute disgrace.’
He later described his logic: ‘I went to a shelter Monday night after the storm. People were coming in with no socks, with no shoes. They were in desperate need. Their housing was destroyed. They were crying. Where was the Red Cross?
‘Isn’t that their function? They collect millions of dollars. Whenever there’s a drive in Staten Island, we give openly and honestly. Where are they? Where are they?’
He encouraged residents of Staten Island not to donate to the non-profit, saying, ‘let them get their money elsewhere.’
However, Mr Molinaro spoke on CNN with Anderson Cooper a day later, saying that ‘things are looking up.’ He said that more aid was coming, and had spoken with Gov. Cuomo and President Obama over receiving necessary assistance.
Anne Marie Borrego, a spokesperson for the Red Cross, told MailOnline that her organization was indeed on the ground in the days following Sandy.
‘There are some things in the [Daily Beast] piece that are inaccurate. We have been all over the Rockaways, there have been tons of press releases of where we would be, and we alerted local media.’ She said that the Red Cross was not contacted for comment before the Beast’s story was published. ‘We positioned supplies so we were ready to go in after the storm. We don’t put people or supplies in harm’s way, so once the storm passed; we were able to move supplies and individuals in.
‘We had thousands of volunteers on the ground, we were spanning across all five boroughs.’
Ms Borrego said that the Red Cross has already spent $60-$70million of the donated funds for items like blankets and cleaning supplies, and said that they’ve served over 7.5million meals.