KMOV.com, Channel 5, St. Louis reported today that St. Charles County Executive, Steve Ehlmann declared a state of emergency due to the flooding. The Red Cross responded by opening emergency shelters in both St. Charles and Jefferson Counties. Residents are advised not to drive through flooded areas and water-covered roads. However, as a result of recent sub-par efforts, the Red Cross is increasingly being told to “sit this one out” because their help is seen as inadequate and or incompetent.
Cindy Erickson, of the Eastern Missouri American Red Cross said, “The first thing, when evacuated, is to go with families or friends, but if you don’t have a safe place, that’s where the Red Cross can help… We have shelters we’ve identified all throughout St. Louis so we can open up a shelter within two hours.” Local residents and flood victims can call their local police departments to get information on the Red Cross sponsored shelters.
While boasting the position of a trusted first responder, Red Cross has faced scrutiny lately as “new management” has gutted programs and laid off thousands of workers. For example, emergency cash assistance to disaster victims such as home fires has been reduced from about $900 to $500 US.
Former AT&T executive and Harvard Business School Marketing instructor, Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern, who was hired to that position in 2008, pledged to “make the tough choices that would revitalize the Red Cross, which was chartered by Congress to provide aid after disasters.” She spoke of a revolutionary and bright future in every single community would host its own branch of the Red Cross. That vision has yet to come to fruition. The Red Cross is instead allegedly, “stumbling in response to … smaller scale disasters.”
Allegedly, McGovern has garnered a handpicked team of her former AT&T colleagues, who have “collectively” presided over a recent undisclosed management blunders that have stifled the international charity’s ability to fulfill its core mission and purpose of meeting the most important needs of Americans in distress.
According to a recently published formal grievance, The Corporate Takeover of the Red Cross, by Justin Elliott, the Red Cross has cut its payroll by more than one third its size prior to McGovern’s hire, and has closed hundreds of local chapters, eliminating thousands of jobs. In addition to ousting paid employees, the actions of the “collective” has left volunteers with a bad taste, many of whom have chosen to leave the organization, including some who had served the Red Cross for many years.
Recent disaster response from the once robust leader in American aid has been surprisingly disproportionate to need. A wildfire that leveled parts of Northern California in September, saw aid at one site which including shelter for just 25 out of the 1,000 victims. Debacles are charged to the charity’s newly strict rules and baffling disorganization despite a history of swift, coordinated action on behalf of those in need.
Many evacuees following the NC fires, “were sleeping in the rain with their children,” said local volunteer, Wendy Lopez. Local officials were enthralled at the lack of real intervention and actually asked the Red Cross to leave the tragic scene. The lack of available Red Cross volunteers seems to be the closing last year of several chapters in the NC area. Consequently, experienced staff and would be helping hands were out of reach when needed most. Mental health disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress are common after disaster experiences. Not having access to help adds to individuals’ distress.
Emergency management is generally handled by much planning and some practice (drills). However, organizations like the Red Cross are relied typically relied on heavily for needed additional support. Despite their former popularity, emergency planners around the country are concluding that the Red Cross is no longer reliable on the level that is required for large-scale disaster. Tim Hofbauer, Emergency Management Director in Nebraska, said in 2013 to a Red Cross Executive that he had “written the Red Cross out of [his] Local Emergency Operations Plan and advised many other Emergency Managers across the state to do the same.” Flooding also took over Lancashire and Yorkshire, England today. However, local disaster support was on hand and prepared. They were not asked to leave.