HOUSTON — As the days and weeks pass by, more people are getting frustrated as they play the waiting game for help from the American Red Cross.
Helen Mott and her family were rescued from their home and taken to a shelter after three and a half feet of water flooded their home during Hurricane Harvey.
“It’s very, very frustrating. Sometimes you go home and you just put your head down and you cry,” Mott said.
Mott said she applied for the $400 assistance package through the Red Cross but was denied, so she filed an appeal. She said the automated response told her she would receive a call from a Red Cross representative within 72 hours, but she still has not heard back five days later.
“It is really painful because you’re not knowing one day to the next, what’s going to happen. Even though it’s a small amount of money, it can be a big help to someone who has lost everything, or pretty much everything,” Mott said.
She’s not the only one.
The Metropolitan Organization is now demanding answers from the American Red Cross after they said hundreds of people have also complained of being denied help.
“We are asking that the Red Cross would clarify their application and appeals process. We also ask that the Red Cross would take an extra step and work with community groups like ours and open up lines of communication so we can help people during this recovery process,” Dr. Charles Turner, a leader with TMO said.
The Red Cross, however, is still asking people to be patient as they navigate through its guinea pig program.
Charles Blake is the division disaster executive for the southwest and Rocky Mountain Division of the American Red Cross.
“It’s a new process. This is the first time the American Red Cross has ever done something like this. We’re trying to expedite getting money into people’s hands and our systems were overwhelmed,” Blake said.
From technical issues to volume issues, Blake said the Red Cross isn’t exactly sure why people are getting denied when they’re not supposed to, but he said, as long as a qualified applicant submits their initial materials before the Oct. 10 deadline, they’ll almost be guaranteed to get that money.
“Once they make that appeal and they do qualify and they’re approved, it’s an almost instantaneous scale. All they have to do is make a decision on where they want that money sent,” Blake said.
Blake adds that the Oct. 10 deadline does not apply to appeals.