Houston Councilman Tells Residents Not to Donate to ‘inept' Red Cross

A Houston councilman discouraged residents from donating to the Red Cross in the wake of Hurricane Harvey at a council meeting Wednesday, the Houston Chronicle reports.Councilman Dave Martin, who represents the Kingwood area of Houston, begged residents "not to give a penny" to the Red Cross, but to give money instead to "another cause.""They are the most inept unorganized organization I've ever experienced," Martin said.Other Houston-area officials have already gone after the Red Cross' response to Harvey. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said he asked a local nonprofit to set up a shelter, largely because he did not trust the Red Cross to do so, according to the Chronicle. "The Red Cross could not have done this. They wouldn't have had the wherewithal to do it," Emmett said. "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."The Red Cross received criticism for failing to make sure supplies reached shelters quickly. One of the Red Cross' shelters was unable to accept evacuees due to flooding, and another only had 200 cots for more than 2,000 people, the Chronicle reports.This isn't the first time the Red Cross has come under fire. In 2015, NPR and ProPublica released a series of reports tracking where the organization's funds went after Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010. Despite the Red Cross' claim that it had provided housing for more than 130,000, the news outlets only found evidence of six homes constructed.Much of the $488 million donated was handed off to third-party organizations, the outlets found, but only after the Red Cross took a chunk for administrative fees.A week ago, NPR asked a Red Cross executive what percentage of the funds donated in the wake of Harvey would actually go to relief -- but the executive didn't know.In a statement to the Chronicle, the Red Cross defended its response to the hurricane."We had all of our shelters on standby the night before Hurricane Harvey blew in, we had all our supplies ready and waiting to go," spokeswoman MaryJane Mudd said. "In some cases the floodwaters made it a little hard to get those supplies from where they were stationed into the shelters for a short while. We've had 1,500 people on the ground, we've served over 700,000 meals and snacks, we've sheltered 40,000 people. I know the plan was there. The process has worked very well."  Continue reading...

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