houston floods: don’t waste resources on the dishonest (at best) red cross. here are better ways to help

August 28, 2017
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This weekend, at least five were killed and dozens injured after Hurricane Harvey smashed into parts of Houston region with brutal winds and 24 inches of rain. As The Atlantic explains, in the disaster that has been compared to Katrina and Sandy, “the heaviest cost of Harvey’s destruction is likely going to be borne by the most vulnerable communities in its path”—older, disabled, and of color.

In an effort to help out, many will turn to the most visible name for relief efforts: The Red Cross.

But, as has gotten clearer and clearer as their involvement in past disasters have been shown to be bungled at best, exploited at worst, The Red Cross is the last place you should turn to when communities are in need.

In a 2014 report titled “The Red Cross’ Secret Disaster” by ProPublica and NPR, the key findings included:

During Isaac, Red Cross supervisors ordered dozens of trucks usually deployed to deliver aid to be driven around nearly empty instead, “just to be seen,” one of the drivers, Jim Dunham, recalls.

The volunteers “were told to drive around and look like you’re giving disaster relief,” Rieckenberg says. The official was anticipating a visit by Red Cross brass and wanted to impress them with the level of activity, he says.

During Sandy, emergency vehicles were taken away from relief work and assigned to serve as backdrops for press conferences, angering disaster responders on the ground.

Handicapped victims “slept in their wheelchairs for days” because the charity had not secured proper cots.

In one case, the Red Cross had to throw out tens of thousands of meals because it couldn’t find the people who needed them.

He described what happened when he advised his bosses that a suggested feeding plan wouldn’t help storm victims. “I was quite bluntly told that they didn’t care – it was the plan that was going to make the ARC [American Red Cross] look the best to the local politicians,” he wrote.

If you’d rather donate to an organization actually interested in helping people other than themselves, Twitter user @goldengateblond has began compiling an extensive list of alternatives:

If you have any additional organizations doing the good work, drop them in the comments!