Red Cross Struggles To Fulfill Promises Made To Hurricane Harvey Victims

As requests for “immediate help” piled up from people whose lives have been uprooted by Hurricane Harvey, the American Red Cross (ARC) found itself unable to fulfill its promise of delivering relief assistance to all.

The ARC had promised Harvey victims, who have been directly affected by the hurricane, a $400 payout through their Immediate Assistance Program.

“Thanks to our generous donors, the American Red Cross will be providing financial assistance to Texas households that were severely impacted by Harvey and need help taking care of emergency needs,” an ARC spokeswoman said, Eyewitness News an ABC affiliate reported.

But it soon became increasingly clear that the servers of the organization were not equipped to handle the overwhelming amount of requests. The following message is currently displayed on their webpage, which was supposed to register financial aid requests from Harvey victims.

Screenshot of error message displayed on the website of American Red Cross. Photo: Screenshot/ American Red Cross Website

It has issued an apology on the website. “We understand this has been frustrating and we apologize for the problems these issues have caused,” ARC stated. “The Red Cross plans to restart the application process on Thursday, September 21. Registration will remain open through October 10.”

“There will be a single website where qualified households from 39 Texas counties that were severely impacted by Harvey can apply for $400,” it added. “We expect the website to have sufficient capacity to handle all registrations; applications will not be accepted through any other website or phone number.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told NBC News that an apology was not good enough for people who are dependent on the relief money to sustain themselves, as they struggle to get back to their normal lives. “If you promise people something, you got to make it happen, otherwise, don’t promise at all,” he said.

When Hurricane Harvey was drowning Texas at the end of August, journalist Jonathan Katz, who had worked for the Associated Press during the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti, published an article in Slate explaining why he would not be donating to the ARC despite the fact that he wants to contribute towards relief efforts.

Katz elaborated that while the non-profit organization was great at appealing to people for money and making it extremely easy for people to make donations, it is not as efficient in figuring out how best to spend the…

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