Despite massive fundraising efforts, the Red Cross' response to Hurricane Sandy has left many victims unsatisfied, reports Reuters in a lengthy look at the group's efforts. It finds several factors fueling the disappointment:
- In advance of the storm, the Red Cross set up five staging areas in places it didn't expect Sandy to hit; but in two of those places—Baltimore and Harrisburg, Penn.,—officials primarily helped local residents, and didn't send resources to harder-hit regions for days.
- It had a hard time mobilizing aid because of traffic and chaos from the storm, and took three days to get to Staten Island, the Rockaways, and Coney Island.
- Upon arriving in truly hard-hit spots, workers found that misconceptions about what the group actually does caused resentment. One New Yorker asked for help moving a 90-year-old bedridden woman to a shelter, only to be told the Red Cross doesn't assist with such transports. It also doesn't arrange cleanup operations. What it does do: supply food, operate shelters.
- Red Cross's sheer size may also be a problem—smaller groups like Occupy Sandy or Doctor's Without Borders have been able to react faster.
- But Red Cross argues it's doing the best it can: "No one organization, no government agency, could permanently be ready to respond to a disaster of this magnitude," says a Red Cross exec. It says that its 2,200 volunteers and 160 employees have helped give out more than 1 million meals or snacks.