Red Cross’s Relief Efforts Blasted a Month After Sandy Despite Raking in $150M In The Name Of The Storm

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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.

Help: Hundreds who were impacted by Sandy, wait in line for distributions from FEMA and Red Cross on November 19 in Coney Island; the activist said she only saw two Red Cross trucks in the Rockaways in two weeks

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.

Erosion: Houses are surrounded by sand in Ortley Beach, New Jersey, almost a month after the area was hit by Hurricane Sandy

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.


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