The American Red Cross issued a statement Sunday following criticism of their assistance program.
The American Red Cross is delivering financial assistance to people affected by Hurricane Harvey, even as we continue to provide food, shelter and comfort. This assistance will allow people to make their own decisions about meeting immediate needs and, as they spend these funds locally, they will be supporting Texas communities as they begin recovering from the enormous economic losses inflicted by Hurricane Harvey.
The American Red Cross successfully relaunched its financial assistance program on September 21, meeting its commitment to restart the program on time. As of Sept. 23, the Red Cross has authorized $70 million in financial assistance to 175,000 Texas households severely affected by Hurricane Harvey and continues to process applications.
This is a first of its kind program for the Red Cross designed to put immediate assistance in the hands of those who need it the most – and do it quickly while controlling for fraud or duplication. As with any new technology stood up just in time, there have been some glitches. We are working day and night to address them quickly and are continuing to provide assistance to those who need it.
The Red Cross is processing registrations for pending applicants whose registrations were not completed when the system became overloaded. We have reached out to all those applicants with instructions on how to continue the process. For example, because of the system overload, some applicants who chose the Walmart payment method did not receive reference codes. We have successfully re-sent the email notifications for Walmart verification numbers that were missing. Those who had missing reference numbers should have received them now.
The focus of our Hurricane Harvey assistance program is on delivering funds to those most severely affected by Hurricane Harvey. This includes households that were in those areas most severely impacted by the storm, who were displaced by the storm for several days, and have expressed an immediate need for financial assistance to cover life sustaining items like food and clothing. These criteria for eligibility have remained the same throughout the process.
We wish we could help everyone, but there are many who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey that may not be qualified for this program. They may qualify for other forms of Red Cross support, including sheltering, cleaning supplies, food, health and mental health support and spiritual care.
In addition, the Red Cross will be working alongside our community partners to create new programs that address unmet needs, including those long-term recovery needs that were not intended to be satisfied by the Hurricane Harvey Assistance program. Qualifying for the Hurricane Harvey assistance program will not be a pre-condition for applying for and/or qualifying for these programs.
Regional Communications Program Manager
American Red Cross