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Flashback: Red Cross ‘Diverted Assets’ During Storms’ Aftermath To Focus On Image

Posted on Sunday, 16th September 2018 @ 11:05 AM by Text Size A | A | A

Within hours of Superstorm Sandy slamming the East Coast two years ago, Americans opened their wallets to help — donating millions to the first charity that came to mind: the American Red Cross.

President Obama, like most elected officials and celebrities, vouched for the organization, encouraging people to give.

In the months after the disaster, the Red Cross touted its success in delivering food, clothes and shelter to tens of thousands of people left homeless by the storm. Gail McGovern, the Red Cross president and CEO, told NBC News two weeks after the storm: “I think that we are near flawless so far in this operation.”

The truth, however, is different.

The venerable charity’s track record in dealing with the megastorm is now being challenged by an unusual cadre of critics — its own employees and records.

Multiple internal documents obtained by NPR and ProPublica along with interviews with top Red Cross officials reveal an organization that struggled to meet the basic needs of victims in the first weeks after the storm. The documents and interviews also depict an organization so consumed with public relations that it hindered the charity’s ability to provide disaster services.

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