Red Cross has unfairly denied aid to 1,000 victims of Hurricane Sandy, a watchdog group charges

Complaint to the New York State attorney general’s office calls it ‘gross mismanagement’ of aid funds.

By / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, July 16, 2013	President Barack Obama speaks during the his visit to the Disaster Operation Center of the Red Cross National Headquarter to discuss superstorm Sandy, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Washington. From left are, Red Cross Senior Vice President of Disaster Services Charles Shimanski, Red Cross President and CEO Gail J. McGovern, and the president. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)


President  Obama and Red Cross officials talk about Sandy relief efforts, which one watchdog group said had unfairly denied aid to about 1,000 victims.

ALBANY — As many as 1,000 Hurricane Sandy victims waiting for emergency aid from the Red Cross were left hanging because of “gross mismanagement,” a bombshell complaint to the state attorney general’s office charges.

Many of the desperate New Yorkers were originally assured by the Red Cross that they qualified for grants of up to $10,000 through a program to help them rebuild or recover, the complaint says. Hundreds more were encouraged to apply for aid.

But after the Red Cross sent checks to some households, the charity on May 6 suddenly narrowed the eligibility requirements, leaving many in the lurch, the complaint charges.

The complaint was filed last week with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s charities bureau by the Disaster Accountability Project, a Maryland-based charity watchdog group.

“A relief organization can’t get lower than dangling hope in front of people that lost everything . . . and then dropping them like a ton of bricks,” group Executive Director Ben Smilowitz said.

“We’re calling on the Red Cross to do the right thing.”


He said 151 Sandy victims signed the complaint.

One was Andrea Dunetz, 63 of Brooklyn, who said she was flooded out of her rent stablized apartment. After meeting with the Red Cross in February, she said she was told she’d qualify for money to cover furniture and the first month’s rent on a new place.

But after the rule change, she was alerted by phone no such money was coming and was urged to call the Salvation Army.

“It’s the creepiest thing I ever went through,” Dunetz told the Daily News. “I was victimized by the storm, victimized by a crappy landlord and victimized by the freakin’ Red Cross.”

A Red Cross rep denied there has been a change in eligibility requirements and accused the watchdog group of “raising false hopes for people who already have suffered enough.”

A Schneiderman aide only confirmed receiving the complaint.

Schneiderman Wednesday is expected to issue a report detailing problems with charitable efforts following Sandy. His office, sources said, is sending out letters to 50 charitable organizations, including the Red Cross and Salvation Army — asking for a more detailed accounting on what has been spent post Sandy and, in many cases, why more hasn’t gone out the door

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  1. Never saw them. FEMA, on two occasions did offer me a 12 ounce bottle of water. Other than that, FEMA was useless. Big winded concerns, and later phone calls, of how sorry they are that they cannot help. Red Cross, never seen them.
    The “heroes” were the volunteer firefighters, the County police, and especially the NY State Police, who were fantastic people. NY National Guard, was useless.

    • Totally agree with you. I believe in direct giving because if you look closely at records of these charities, majority of money goes to staff and executives and tiny amount only for the cause. Government and charities share one thing in common- they need people’s money to exist and they feed off from people who continue to believe them and give them money.

      • Also, a Christian group of volunteers from Pennsylvania, literally went to work helping people on the street gather belongings strewn by the flood, and empty furniture out of houses, placing it neatly at the curb for payloaders to remove. I did my own work but a few people with medical issues were helped by them. Very nice people, and their presence was most welcomed and reassuring.
        The surprise came around February 2013, when a group of TSA Officers from Baton Rouge, La., went door-to-door, helping people by directing them to agencies for various help needed. I always bop the TSA over the head on my blog, but they were very nice and concerned. They are a credit to an agency gone haywire. Various trade union members went door-to-door, to help some re-establish heat, water, and did their best to give some families comforts lost. I have been a survivalist since the Reagan administration and always considered as crazy however, I had relatively fewer problems than most.
        As far as the Red Cross is concerned, I never saw them. I passed by centers where people were lined up and expressions of being shell shocked that I have not seen in many years. I never went for any help as people had a greater need than myself. Trucks were from all over the nation, distributing blankets, food, laundry, clothing, you name it, all by the charity of the People in America, on a family level, and even from their very own dinner tables. God Bless You All, and Thank You, on behalf of the community.
        (A six foot Mako shark, came in with the flood and circled my barbeque. It was an honest six feet, not seven, not five. If I knew it were coming, I would have dragged it into my kitchen by the tail and made steaks of it!)
        {Hooper.., put up another barrel!}

      • Thank you. I happen to be “Brooklyn Tough”.
        Things are now beginning to calm down, though on a reduced and not so much happy level. I simply have to continue rolling with the punches. Many continue to have it worse.
        Thanks again.

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