As More Red Cross Stories Surface, Texans Demand Answers

As we continue our coverage of Hurricane Harvey recovery stories, we’ve received numerous emails from our readers sharing their Red Cross experiences. We have actively sought out Red Cross stories from staff, volunteers, and beneficiaries with positive accounts to share.

We were able to get a reply from a gentleman in The Red Cross communications department. However, when we approached other current staff and volunteers, we were met with surprising hostility. For example, in one response to our request for an interview, Emerson Veler of Laurinburg, North Carolina, who claims to be a Red Cross volunteer, stated, “You are just more fake news. If you want to be a journalist, be a serious factual one.”

While we did hear from several former employees and volunteers, their feedback was very concerning. Subsequently, despite our best efforts, the only stories we’ve been able to procure thus far are negative. If you would like to share your story — whether negative or positive — please email us here. We edit all submissions for clarity. The views expressed in this article are the opinions our readers, whose stories we are honored to tell.

Rockport Firefighters

I took provisions to a cousin in Rockport the Wednesday after Hurricane Harvey hit. They were volunteer firefighters. I asked about the Red Cross. They said that they had already left. What!? It hadn’t even been a week! They said the response was a joke. They got some sandwiches and used toiletries, such as a tube of toothpaste that had hair on it. Gag! The real heroes were citizens who drove in with supplies, and Mercy Chefs, who fed them three hot square meals a day.

Jennifer Nelson, Joshua, TX

McDonald’s Hamburgers Eaten By Staff

I have to admit that when we went to volunteer at the Convention Center, no one knew what was going on. My friend Rita and I gave our info to two different Red Cross people who put it into their system and then told us to go online and register, which we did, but nothing happened. We sat there for four hours waiting for a task, but still, nothing. It was like no one was in charge.

Someone brought in a huge box of food from McDonald’s, but they don’t accept food from outside sources. So, the Red Cross volunteers ate them (not me or Rita though). By 5:00 PM, we decided to leave and try again the next day, however we were told to wait until we got an email saying we’d been cleared by criminal records. Without clearance, we cannot interact with the evacuees.

I’ve always held the Red Cross in high regard because they’ve always been at the front lines for disaster relief. But really, in a time like this, I have to pass a criminal background check before we can volunteer? I understand the precautions necessary under ordinary circumstances, but in time of immediate need, it seems ridiculous. I’m so very disappointed. And no we haven’t been cleared yet, as of September 12.

Renee Lopez, Austin, Texas

Former Red Cross Chairman: They Depend Upon Disaster

The Red Cross cares only for money, not people. I’ll give you a very specific example. I used to volunteer as the Chairperson for our local Red Cross chapter. While reviewing our tiny local budget, I was told by a Red Cross staff member at the state headquarters that blood donations used to be the cash cow for the Red Cross, but the demand for blood is down and use of synthetic blood is increasing. So, the blood money has literally stopped flowing. He said what we really need to increase our revenues is more natural disasters. We need more hurricanes, floods, and fires to get people to dig deep and donate money. I refuse to work with people who think this way.

After I submitted my letter of resignation, I was contacted by a regional Red Cross Manager saying she understood how I felt, but essentially what the state-level person had said was true. If America went an entire year without a natural disaster, the Red Cross would fold, because they don’t know how to run an efficient organization and depend on frequent disasters to get people to donate freely so the Red Cross can spend freely. It’s absolutely shameful.

I resigned in the spring of 2015. I served on the board of directors and as Chairperson of the board of directors for the Calloway County Chapter in Kentucky.  I’m conflicted about the Red Cross because I feel the paid staff members are skewed in their thinking. They are very money driven. However, there are truly wonderful giving volunteers with good hearts that do care and don’t take a penny. Those people are associated with the Red Cross as well and I don’t want to lump them in and say the entire Red Cross has lost it’s way.

There are people who have risen to positions of power and influence within the organization that have lost their way. The local unpaid volunteers, who just want to help, get frustrated by an inefficient organization that is overly burdened with senseless rules about who can use a damn cot.

Johnny Phillips, Murray Kentucky


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The South Dakota Flood of 1972

During the June 9th, 1972 flood in Rapid City, South Dakota, where hundreds of people died, and many more were left homeless, the Red Cross did come in.  They were given thousands and thousands of dollars of donations.  Instead of passing them out to the people in the shelters, they charged them for their food and necessities.  The Salvation Army was there as well, and they gave all the stuff out for free.  I give to the Salvation Army and will never give to the Red Cross.

Tamara Snyder

Blood Donation Practices

The Red Cross comes twice every year to the high school that I graduated from. They come for blood donations from those kids that are now old enough to donate blood. My brother donated both times when he became eligible. The first time went just fine. The second time he got a letter from the Red Cross stating that they had messed up a batch of blood that was being tested for HIV. His blood sample was one of the ones in the batch. Because someone had messed up the testing, all of those samples tested positive for HIV.

They went back through and retested all of them and my brothers came back negative. However, it is their policy that if someone’s blood tests positive even if it is false positive, they are banned for life from ever donating again. So now my brother can never donate to them because of something that they messed up with and even admitted that they messed up. They are so desperate for blood all the time but won’t even take it from those that are perfectly eligible. I wonder how many others were in that batch and are now black-balled for life.

Elizabeth Young

Featured Image: A screenshot from a video showing thousands of dollars of discarded Red Cross blankets, dog food, pet crates, and other pet supplies. Read the story here.

A Korean War Veteran’s Breakfast

My husband, who served as a medic in the Korean War, had no use for the Red Cross. He saw a Red Cross tent and picked up a doughnut and took a bite. Then he was told how much it cost. So, he put it down, and walked away! He always told others not to give them a cent.

Virginia Deehan, Columbus Ohio

Confusion in Canton, Texas

The story I’m sharing is exactly why we did not work with the Red Cross during the Hurricane Harvey disaster. Instead, we organized  our own efforts & worked directly with the coastal community’s local volunteer fire departments and churches.

Earlier this year, a tornado severely damaged Canton and Emory, Texas, and surrounding small communities. I contacted the Red Cross immediately and spoke with the Director over the East Texas Region. I explained that I was collecting donations through the organization that I work for. Our efforts and focus were on providing items to assist the victims and volunteers with clean-up. I told them we’d collected shovels, wheel barrows, five gallon buckets, work gloves, trash bags, eye protection, water, etc. They said that was fine, and I was given a cell phone number for a point of contact. I called the point-of-contact person immediately, and they asked when we would be bringing the items. I told them in two days. They said that was fine.

They called me the next day and said they do not need items because they do not have room to store stuff, but monetary donations were welcome. I said we want to help and not cause additional burden, and I offered, “Let me see if I can get an 18-wheeler trailer to store the items.” They said, “OK.”

I called back two hours later to say, “I have an 18-wheeler trailer that can be dropped in Canton to store donations. If you need two or three, I have that too.” Then they said, “No, we don’t have anywhere to park an 18-wheeler trailer.”

So, a member of my organization called a man that owns land with a fence and locked gate on Interstate 20 in Canton. The land owner said that we and The Red Cross could park the 18-wheeler trailers on his land and he would freely give us access to the gated entry.

This is now two days after the tornado. I called my Red Cross point-of-contact and said, “We have trailers for storing items and we have land to park the trailers on.” However, The Red Cross said no, we don’t need the items. They wanted us to meet one of their representatives at a local rented storage building and said they would store the items there for a future disaster.

Our items were for clean-up and our items were needed right now. They refused to use them for this emergency. I talked to another Red Cross representative. Same story. I have items to assist with clean-up. This representative said, “We don’t have a place to store at the disaster site.” I said, I have 18-wheeler trailers. The Red Cross representative said we don’t have parking space for 18-wheeler trailers. I said, “We have land with a fence available in Canton.” The representative said no and offered to store the items in a local rented storage building and said they would store the items for a future disaster.

Now, I called the Regional Director and had the exact same conversation. They refused to use our donated clean-up items three days after the disaster. The victims and volunteers couldn’t safely begin clean-up until the electric company determined it was safe. This was three to four days after the tornado.  On day four, we ended up driving the truck full of items into the community and worked with a local church that was assisting the victims.

After this, we decided that the next time we are going to help during a disaster it will be coordinated with local fire departments and churches. That’s exactly what we did during Hurricane Harvey and we have no regrets. Every item went quickly and directly into the hands of the people in the disaster area. We were careful about what items we sent and we made contact with a front-line person before sending. Once a community was taken care of, we sent supplies to the next community in need. We made sure our items were needed, and not a burden.

Angela Daughtry, Longview, Texas

Memories From Hurricane Carla

The Red Cross story is nothing new. Here’s mine. When we lost everything in Hurricane Carla (1961) when I was young, The Red Cross came along and gave all the socialites new beds and whatever they needed. If you weren’t in the upper crust of society, you got nothing. Our neighbors were given a mattress they didn’t need. Even though they told them they already had one, The Red Cross insisted they take it anyway. They didn’t know we needed one and gave it away.

We were turned away by the Red Cross when my parents asked for help since they didn’t have flood insurance back then. We had seven feet of water in our home. I slept on an army cot for months, which my parents borrowed from relatives out of town. My parents slept on a wet, moldy mattress for three months. A few months later, The Red Corss came back to town, wanting everyone’s money to pay back for all they had donated to the elites. What a scam.

The Salvation Army, on the other hand, had trucks with bells that they drove through the neighborhoods. You would go to the curb and they would give you sandwiches and apples and fresh drinking water. They asked for nothing in return. I always give to the Salvation Army or other charity or church. I won’t give to anything that helps The Red Cross and their overpaid, greedy hierarchy that care nothing about people that are hurting and need help.

Dr. Melba S. Ketchum, Director of DNA Diagnostics, Timpson, TX

A Clothing Donor Turned Down, Asked For Money Instead

I called The Red Cross asking for a drop-off center.  I wanted to donate brand new clothes with the tags still on them.  They ignored my question and asked if I wanted to donate money.  I told them no, I had clothing to donate.  They weren’t interested and told me go online. I went online and found a private individual who was delivering to a Church in Texas that he had connected with.  He had the backing of our local TV station. I knew using this route, there was a much better chance it would get into the hands of people who needed it.

Marlene Miller

No Maybe Mad Cow Blood Allowed

My ‘beef’ with the Red Cross is about their attitude for donating blood. My background is that I and my family were stationed in West Germany from 1980-1983. For a very short time (less than 6 months), the commissary system was buying processed  beef from England. There was definitely a Mad Cow Disease problem in England at that time. Some of the meat may have been sent to the commissary system in Germany. Due to the “horrendous” effects of Mad Cow Disease on cows, The Red Cross decided that they would permanently ban anyone that was stationed in Germany during a 6 year period from ever donating blood. Period.

There is not, to my knowledge, any case of a human being ever contracting Mad Cow Disease from processed beef, ever. I have asked numerous times if there is any test to check for the disease in human blood, and have been told point blank that The Red Cross does not care enough to check for one, or create one.

I have asked what the manifestation period is for the disease to become detectable, and have been told it is up to thirty years. My further questions of, “If you need blood donors so frequently, what are they doing about a test?” just meets with blank stares or statements of, “We aren’t going to create a test”.

With the Red Cross banning all personnel and their families who were stationed in Germany during the possible time frame who maybe possibly ate contaminated beef from England, they have effectively cut out upwards of 1 Million possible donors, permanently. We have no chance of ever donating blood through The Red Cross, and the military and our families are known to be one of the biggest donor sources.

We have no recourse to ever give blood, because all the local blood collection agencies use the Red Cross standards. When I tried to ask about the local agency creating a test, they give me the same blank ‘deer in the headlights’ stare.

Ed Ronningen, Senior Master Sergeant, US Air Force

The Ham Radio Messenger

My story is not from Harvey, but from a tornado that hit my Northeast Texas hometown approximately 30 years ago.  My dad worked emergency communications (Ham Radio).  He would receive a message from out of town friends and family asking about their people in town. I would go find the people and get verification to send back to their families. So, I was all over town seeing what was going on.

The Red Cross came to town demanding a building with power and running water.  They set up inside the high school gym and never set foot outside. If anyone went inside, the were sold coffee, water, and blankets. The Salvation Army set up their own tent, with their own generator and fuel, on the football practice field.  They gave away everything the brought, fed meals to anyone who asked, and went out through the town looking for any place they could pitch in to help.  I have refused to support The Red Cross since, and these current stories only confirm that they have not changed for the better but have only gotten worse.

Lon & Nancy Mantooth, Texas

We are very grateful to all our readers who have shared their Red Cross stories with us. If you would like to share your Hurricane Harvey or Red Cross stories, you may do so via email. Please be aware that we do edit all submissions for typos and clarity, and we are honored to share your account. In addition, we are actively looking for inspiring stories of local church, charities, and individuals who went above-and-beyond to help their community, neighbors, family, and friends. If you have such a story, please email us here. Thank you!

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5 thoughts on “As More Red Cross Stories Surface, Texans Demand Answers

Add yours

  1. Two videos seen recently concerning the Red Cross, didn’t know if you had seen.
    1st is Gina Nelms facbook post video…

    2nd is Liz Dujka’s facebook post video about animal supplies being dumped/trashed


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