The American Red Cross has announced that in the two months since Hurricane Harvey created the largest U.S. flooding disaster in recent memory, the organization has spent or authorized nearly $275 million in both direct relief and individual support to victims of the flooding.
As of October 31, the Red Cross had raised $429 million in donations and pledges to address the needs of people affected by the storm and had authorized cash awards of $400 to more than 573,000 households, for a total of $229.2 million in cash assistance. The organization also said it has spent an estimated $45 million on sheltering, meals, relief supplies, and health and mental health services, and has provided mental health and health services to more than 127,000 people in Texas and Louisiana.
Although the Red Cross has raised significantly more than any nonprofit or charity for Harvey relief and recovery efforts, it has been criticized for its management of the relief effort, the Associated Press reports. One critic, Texas governor Greg Abbott, told the AP that he had expressed his concern to Red Cross officials that hundreds of millions of dollars were not getting to the people who needed help.
"We believe we have been transparent in our response to Hurricane Harvey, and [Red Cross president and CEO Gail] McGovern will be reaching out to the governor's office to ensure that he has all the information he needs," Red Cross spokesperson Elizabeth Penniman told the AP. "The Red Cross also believes the governor has shown tremendous leadership during this response, and we look forward to continuing our work with him in the months ahead."
David Brady, who was CEO of the Red Cross's Texas Gulf Coast chapter when the storm hit, defended his chapter's response and said the storm had presented unprecedented challenges. But Brady and two other top officials at the local agency recently resigned. According to the AP, Brady posted on Facebook that he disagreed "too often" with the national Red Cross over its response to the storm, and he went on to add that it wasn't "fair to the organization to have a leader in this role that is filled with that much doubt."