HOUSTON – “I need some help!” Clara Walters lost everything she owned to Hurricane Harvey. At 91, she’s seen a lot and lived through a lot. But nothing, she says, like Hurricane Harvey.
“Never! Never seen water that high! But God took care of me,” Walters said.
God may have, but according the her family, the Red Cross has not.
Walter’s granddaughter, Joyce Andrews, said, “What’s hard for me is to see her picture continue to be used as like a poster child and the face of Harvey. But, nobody’s helping her. She can’t get any assistance.”
Walters’ rescue was first seen in the Texas Tribune. Then again in a United Way Public Service Announcement. Even Robin Roberts from Good Morning America posted the elderly woman’s picture on Instagram for a benefit concert.
This ‘accidental celebrity’ turned to the Red Cross online for financial aid. The organization has taken lots of heat after the site, where those affected could apply for an emergency $400 grant, crashed. Before it crashed, lines wrapped around local Walmarts with people picking up their funds, but those who could not get through expressed their anger on social media.
The Red Cross issued a statement saying that, on Sept. 11, they distributed $45 million to those in need. The site relaunched on Sept. 21, giving people the opportunity to try again for the assistance. This time around, however, denial emails and texts started rolling out, prompting a firestorm of complaints. Many from victims who said they were clearly affected, yet could get no help.
“The questions that they ask are pretty general,” Andrews explained.
One look at her grandmother’s shell of a home and there’s no denying she’s in need. Yet, the Red Cross has denied her…..twice!
“There is a chance an address wasn’t fully competed or a box might not have been checked like an emergency need when it should have been checked,” said MaryJane Mudd with the Red Cross. “Maybe that didn’t happen at all. Maybe it’s a glitch. We understand people are frustrated.”
Walters’ only option with the Red Cross is to appeal, which can be done online, and to be patient while seeking other help, the agency said.
There’s FEMA, and the Small Business Administration offers low interest long-term disaster loans. There are also faith-based institutions.
After losing all her worldly possessions, faith is the one thing Walters has got plenty of.