Elsewhere online
May 19, 2016

Red Cross Draws More Criticism for Miss. Flood Response

Emails among emergency-response officials in Mississippi during record flooding across the state in March decry a lack of coordination between local teams and the American Red Cross, reports ProPublica, which obtained copies of the communications.

In one missive, Mississippi’s director of emergency management called the national charity’s service delivery “marginal at best.” Other emails note Red Cross resources deployed to areas largely unaffected by the flooding, persistent communication breakdowns between the charity and local officials, and a lack of tactical planning, problems some said have persisted since Hurricane Katrina struck the region in 2005.

In previous reporting, ProPublica has linked problems with the Red Cross’s response to disasters such as Superstorm Sandy to budget and staff cuts affecting the charity’s network of local offices. Several Mississippi chapters have closed since Gail McGovern because the charity’s CEO in 2008.

In a statement, the Red Cross said it provided tens of thousands of meals and other relief supplies to Mississippians affected by the flooding. "Red Cross and Emergency Management officials do confer and coordinate every day" during disaster situations, the charity said, "but we may not always follow a pre-determined plan; Red Cross workers meet the need where we find it." The organization said ProPublica, "in its ongoing attempts to discredit the work of the Red Cross," buried praise of the charity from the state emergency-response chief deep in the article.