We told you earlier this week about a joint investigation by NPR and ProPublica into the mismanagement of the American Red Cross’ responses to Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy in 2012. In an interview with PBS NewsHour, Suzy DeFrancis, Chief Public Affairs Officer for the Red Cross, responded to that investigation.
DeFrancis explained that the investigation was one-sided, failing to show the good that the Red Cross did during the hurricane responses. She noted that the organization distributed 17.5 million meals and snacks and 7 million relief items such as gloves and hats. DeFrancis also stated that the Red Cross deployed 17,000 people for the response, most of them being volunteers.
In response to the allegations that Red Cross vehicles were driven around empty for show or were otherwise utilized for media purposes, DeFrancis explained that only disaster responders directed the trucks and that all trucks were full of food. As the Chief Public Affairs Officer she explained that she had firsthand knowledge that public relations staff could not tell any emergency response vehicles where to go.
DeFrancis also responded to allegations of wasted food. She said that although some food did go to waste, there was nowhere near the amount of waste cited in the investigative report.
DeFrancis admitted that the organization learned some lessons from the responses, noting that the Red Cross hasn’t been a response organization for 130 years without making changes to get better.