Meanwhile, back on topic, it came out yesterday that the Red Cross is being investigated for mishandling the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and Irene. I had talked with people I knew from that area, as I lived in NJ for several years and have been to the state many, many times, including the Jersey Shore. What wasn't being reported on any major channel was that FEMA was doing a decent job while the Red Cross was nowhere to be found. Resident of Staten Island said it took FEMA hours to show up and the Red Cross weeks. Turns out, these eyewitness accounts proves accurate for once and the Red Cross is looking mighty iffy now.
This is from NPR:
In the months after the disaster, the Red Cross touted its success in delivering food, clothes and shelter to tens of thousands of people left homeless by the storm. Gail McGovern, the Red Cross president and CEO, told NBC News two weeks after the storm: "I think that we are near flawless so far in this operation."
The truth, however, is different.
The venerable charity's track record in dealing with the megastorm is now being challenged by an unusual cadre of critics — its own employees and records.
Multiple internal documents obtained by NPR and ProPublica along with interviews with top Red Cross officials reveal an organization that struggled to meet the basic needs of victims in the first weeks after the storm. The documents and interviews also depict an organization so consumed with public relations that it hindered the charity's ability to provide disaster services.
This shows a blatant disregard for both public safety and common sense. Money appears to have been siphoned away to parts unknown, which is one of the main reasons I give to very few charities. The smaller they are, the more likely they are not thieves. Here's some examples of how badly they fared with disaster aid, which is what they are supposed to be known for:
* The Red Cross national headquarters in Washington "diverted assets for public relations purposes." A former Red Cross official managing the Sandy effort says 40 percent of available trucks were assigned to serve as backdrops for news conferences.
* Distribution of relief was "politically driven instead of [Red Cross] planned."
* In one shelter, "sex offenders were placed in a special area off of dorm, but they weren't there, they were all over, including playing in children's area," according to a confidential "lessons learned" memo from the Red Cross.
* "We didn't have the kind of sophistication needed for this size job," concluded one senior Red Cross official, describing the agency's logistics operations in notes from an after-action report five weeks after the storm. Added another official: "Multiple systems failed."
In other words, what their job basically is, they cannot do anymore. So why bother at all if you are going to muck things up so bad, in actuality making things worse?
* Relief organizers were ordered to produce 200,000 additional meals one day — to drive up numbers. They did it at extraordinary cost, even though there was no one to deliver them to and most went to waste.
* "It was just clear to me that they weren't interested in doing mass care; they were interested in the illusion of mass care," says Richard Rieckenberg, who helped lead the Red Cross' response to Sandy and Hurricane Isaac.
* It wasn't just Sandy. When Isaac hit Mississippi and Louisiana earlier in 2012, Rieckenberg says: "We didn't have food in the shelters, we didn't have cots, we didn't have blankets in the shelters, which to me was incredible because we saw this hurricane coming a long way away."
* Also during Isaac, one Red Cross official had 80 trucks drive around empty or largely empty "just to be seen," as one of the drivers recalls.
* "Our experience with the Red Cross is they're a little late to the game," says Police Lt. Matthew Tiedemann, the emergency management coordinator for Bergen County, N.J., who says the Red Cross failed to provide volunteers and resources to open shelters after Sandy. "The reality set in that I was in the sheltering business. It was pretty time-consuming, considering I was putting together cots when I should have been managing an emergency," he says.
This is the level of incompetence that we have to deal with on a daily basis. It isn't a left or right matter anymore, but an American one. The people we are sending to Washington to fix these things are incapable of that, yet the average voter either doesn't care or doesn't know any better. Either way, all signs still point to an epic fall, most likely sooner than later. I was right about the Red Cross. How long before I am right about the economy?