Red Cross responds to complaints from those at GRB shelter

People who've turned to the city's George R. Brown Convention Center for a place to stay following Harvey tell KHOU 11 News there are growing frustrations inside aimed at the Red Cross.

HOUSTON - People who’ve turned to the city’s George R. Brown Convention Center for a place to stay following Harvey tell KHOU 11 News there are growing frustrations inside aimed at the Red Cross.

The complaints range from food to safety to concerns money promised by the charity isn’t coming fast enough.

David Walker has been at the shelter for 12 days and says getting help inside has been hard.

“I’ve been going to the Red Cross every day, calling, they say the system’s crashing," he said.

The Red Cross admitted the website the organization uses to help those in need has been overwhelmed, but a spokesperson says the problem is being fixed.

KHOU 11 News shared the concerns from those in the shelter about the food being served to them after evacuees said the food was making them sick.

That spokesperson promised to look into those complaints and sent KHOU 11 News this statement about rumors circulating on social media:

"Unfortunately, these statements appear to stem from misinformation found repeatedly on social media. Here is some information of what the American Red Cross is doing to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

"Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana, thousands of people remain in emergency shelters, while many more are cleaning up their flooded homes. The American Red Cross is there, providing food, shelter, relief supplies and comfort to people affected by the devastating storm.

"Thanks to our generous donors, the Red Cross is providing financial assistance to Texas households that were severely impacted by Harvey and need help taking care of emergency needs. Right now, we are in the initial phase of this effort and are experiencing an exceedingly high demand. We know this is frustrating and ask that people please be patient.

• On September 11, we provided $45 million in financial assistance to more than 100,000 qualified households who needed immediate help.
• The Red Cross is prepared to provide financial assistance to hundreds of thousands of households.
• This financial assistance is in addition to the other emergency relief efforts the Red Cross is providing in Texas, which includes sheltering, food and other critical immediate support; we have been on the ground in Texas since before Harvey made landfall, and will be to get those affected back on their feet. 
• The Red Cross is a charity, not a government agency, and people do not need to be American citizens to receive our assistance.
• The Red Cross continues to provide shelter, food, comfort and emergency support. And our work is just beginning – we will use generous donations to help people recover and get back on their feet in the challenging weeks and months ahead.
• The Red Cross is providing shelter and comfort, food and relief supplies, health services, emotional support and spiritual care, along with financial assistance to the hardest-hit areas across Texas and Louisiana.
• Red Cross response vehicles and volunteers are out across neighborhoods to distribute food and relief supplies such as diapers, bug spray, cleaning supplies, coolers, and comfort kits that contain deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other hygiene items.
• The Red Cross honors donor intent, and all donations earmarked for Hurricane Harvey will be used for our work to support this disaster. After the emergency relief phase of our work is complete, we will use any remaining donations for Hurricane Harvey to meet the longer-term needs of the affected communities.
• 91 cents of every dollar we receive for Hurricane Harvey will be spent to help people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

"Massive disasters like Hurricane Harvey create more needs than any one organization can meet on their own. The Red Cross is working very closely with the entire response community – government agencies, other non-profit groups, faith-based organizations, area businesses and others – to coordinate emergency relief efforts and get help to people as quickly as possible.

• This is a time for communities to come together and support one another.
• The Red Cross is working with dozens of disaster partners to support feeding, child care, disaster assessment and other disaster services. Some of the partners we are coordinating with include Americorps NCCC, Church of the Brethren Children’s Disaster Services, Save the Children, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Islamic Relief USA.

"We would be happy to talk to you if you have any additional questions, but rest assured that our more than 3,000 volunteers on the ground are helping thousands every day, and will continue to do so for months to come, maybe years."

An announcement to move people out of the downtown convention center is expected in the coming days. The building has housed thousands of people in the days following Houston’s historic flooding.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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