Red Cross Brought More Excuses Than Aid to Texas After Hurricane Harvey, Locals Say

Red Cross Brought More Excuses Than Aid to Texas After Hurricane Harvey, Locals Say

Joanna Purpich

HOUSTON—One month after Hurricane Harvey, Adam Hunt is stuck living in a tent on his property in New Caney, northeast of Houston.

He camps out in his yard with no electricity or running water ever since flooding destroyed the two mobile homes he and his mother lived in. Ten homes on his street alone flooded, but just as clean up began, aid disappeared, Hunt said.

“We’re kind of a forgotten neighborhood,” he told The Daily Beast.

Hunt said that volunteers and church groups passed out supplies right after the storm but that few stuck around. He spends his days helping his neighbors clean out their homes and picking up odd jobs to scrape together money.

While the Red Cross came to New Caney four times—twice with chili, twice with water and shovels—Hunt feels frustrated with the situation and says he expected more manpower to clean out houses.

“The Red Cross was never really here,” he said.

In fact, Hunt’s experience with the Red Cross was above average, according to east Texas residents who spoke to The Daily Beast. In Rose City, east of Beaumont, only one out of roughly 300 homes didn’t flood, according to Tony Wilcoxson, pastor of Rose City Baptist Church. The town went more than a month without running water.

Problems with Harvey recovery is the latest in a long list of controversies surrounding the Red Cross. The organization first came under scrutiny in 2001 after only distributing 27 percent of the more than $564 million raised in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to CNN.

Similar complaints arose after the earthquake in Haiti where the Red Cross “raised half a billion dollars for Haiti and built six homes,” according to a joint investigation by NPR and ProPublica then again after Sandy where a second investigation found “excessive” amounts of food waste, unsafe shelters, and resources diverted to promote a better public image.

Although the Red Cross said it began delivering supplies to Rose City on Sept. 10 and coordinated with the military to pass out “vital supplies like water and snacks” even earlier, Wilcoxson said he was unaware the relief group was in the area until well after that.

“It was like people didn’t know where we were,” he said.

Weeks later, when Wilcoxson did see the group serving meals, he was unimpressed.

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