Steve Pope
Mary Gillespie uses a walker as she walks back into the Red Cross shelter after having a
cigarette, Friday June 13, 2008 in Cedar Rapids,
Iowa. (AP)

Red Cross Runs Low on Disaster Relief Funds

June 18, 2008 03:36 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
Shrinking donations, scandals and Midwestern floods have stretched the American Red Cross’s financial resources too thin.

30-Second Summary

The American Red Cross, an organization that’s helped countless disaster victims around the United States, is in need of a little help itself.

Since April 2008, the organization has handled more than 30 disaster operations, and currently has thousands of workers helping flood victims in the U.S. Midwest. In this busy time, some of its financial resources have been tapped out.

“The disaster relief fund today is completely depleted. The balance is zero,” warned Jeffrey Towers, chief development officer for the Red Cross. Already, the Red Cross has spent $15 million on the Midwest floods, but raised just $3.2 million in return.

“That’s putting this in the category of a very significant disaster for the Red Cross, historically, when you would look at what we spend on relief efforts,” said Joe Becker, senior vice president of Red Cross disaster services.

Economic struggles have dampened individual willingness to donate to the organization. Also troubling the Red Cross are its string of personnel problems and its handling of past disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

For now, President Bush said he would encourage emergency legislation from Congress to allocate funds to the Midwest; but because that takes time, the Red Cross will be the primary source of money. The group reported that it will need to seek out loans to continue with its efforts.

“That’s not a position we want to be in,” stated Towers. “It’s obviously not sustainable.”

Headline Link: Busy months for the Red Cross

Background: Red Cross struggles

Internal problems
Sagging economy
‘Donor fatigue’

Related Topics: Midwest flooding; Hurricane Katrina loan

Midwest flooding
Hurricane Katrina loan

Historical Context: Clara Barton and the American Red Cross

Reference: Donate to the Red Cross


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