Can the American Red Cross be Trusted When the SHTF?
While looters ravaged the city, police were busy confiscating weapons from law abiding citizens. The situation was so bad, that it was probably the single most influential event in the creation the modern Prepper movement. It became the poster child of government largesse and bureaucracy during a crisis. We knew without a shadow of a doubt that if society were to ever fall apart, we'd have pick up up the pieces and fend for ourselves.
Since then, the government's ability to respond to disaster has not improved. Many of the Police, Firefighters, and EMS workers are well trained and very capable individuals, but organization and management of these rescue workers is still a disaster (pardon the pun). After hurricane Sandy, the public saw once again just how disorganized and inefficient the government relief efforts could be.
However, the blame can't be placed entirely on the government. It turns out that mismanagement of disaster relief is widespread among multiple institutions. Recently, NPR interviewed several employees of the American Red Cross in regards to the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. What they found was eye-opening to say the least.
* The Red Cross national headquarters in Washington "diverted assets for public relations purposes." A former Red Cross official managing the Sandy effort says 40 percent of available trucks were assigned to serve as backdrops for news conferences.Well isn't that just peachy? If your home was destroyed and your family had nowhere else to go, could you really trust the Red Cross to take care of your kids? That alone would be enough to keep me from seeking shelter with them. Unfortunately, the evidence of systemic incompetence doesn't stop there.
* Distribution of relief was "politically driven instead of [Red Cross] planned."
* Food waste was "excessive," due to factors including inexperienced staff, poor communication and "political pressures."
*In one shelter, "sex offenders were placed in a special area off of dorm, but they weren't there, they were all over, including playing in children's area,"according to a confidential "lessons learned" memo from the Red Cross.
* "We didn't have the kind of sophistication needed for this size job," concluded one senior Red Cross official, describing the agency's logistics operations in notes from an after-action report five weeks after the storm. Added another official: "Multiple systems failed."This is one of the most popular charities in the United States. This is who most Americans think of when a disaster strikes. It's who we donate the most money to when the SHTF in an American city. By the looks of it though, they sure don't sound like a charity. If these accounts are correct, then the American Red Cross is more like a bureaucracy masquerading as a charity.
* Relief organizers were ordered to produce 200,000 additional meals one day — to drive up numbers. They did it at extraordinary cost, even though there was no one to deliver them to and most went to waste.
* "It was just clear to me that they weren't interested in doing mass care; they were interested in the illusion of mass care," says Richard Rieckenberg, who helped lead the Red Cross' response to Sandy and Hurricane Isaac.
* It wasn't just Sandy. When Isaac hit Mississippi and Louisiana earlier in 2012, Rieckenberg says: "We didn't have food in the shelters, we didn't have cots, we didn't have blankets in the shelters, which to me was incredible because we saw this hurricane coming a long way away."
* Also during Isaac, one Red Cross official had 80 trucks drive around empty or largely empty "just to be seen," as one of the drivers recalls.
* "Our experience with the Red Cross is they're a little late to the game," says Police Lt. Matthew Tiedemann, the emergency management coordinator for Bergen County, N.J., who says the Red Cross failed to provide volunteers and resources to open shelters after Sandy. "The reality set in that I was in the sheltering business. It was pretty time-consuming, considering I was putting together cots when I should have been managing an emergency," he says.
On the ground level, I'm sure there's an abundance of capable and compassionate people in the Red Cross. But at the top, it's all about PR and profits. The next time a disaster strikes, do some research and find a local charity you can donate to, or volunteer yourself. It's the only way to know that your time and resources won't be squandered.
More importantly, you should prepare now while you still can. You can't expect to rely on anyone but yourself for your own survival. If you don't stock up on the essentials and you don't learn a few survival skills, you're just putting your safety into the hands of somebody else, further down the line. It doesn't matter if that somebody else is a looter, a bureaucrat, or a charity. Ultimately, if you don't prep, you're putting your life in the hands of people you've never met.
They may end up being good compassionate people.They may end up being monsters. In this case, they may even be incompetent. If you don't prepare now, you'd better brace yourself for that crapshoot.
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