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State meets with Red Cross over disaster response Monday

5 months 3 weeks 2 days ago October 03, 2016 Oct 3, 2016 Monday, October 03 2016 October 03, 2016 2:52 PM in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Members of the governor's office met with the Red Cross to discuss issues following the agency's response to the August flood.

Marketa Garner Walters, the Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services, was among those who attended the meeting.  Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is on a trade mission to Cuba with many high-ranking state officials. The meeting with Red Cross was scheduled for Monday, the first day of the governor's week-long trip.

Following the meeting, a Red Cross spokesperson called the meeting productive and shared a two-page prepared statement.

"The American Red Cross stands by its response and recovery efforts in Louisiana. We are proud of our thousands of volunteers – from Louisiana, and from across the country – and we are grateful for the collaborative relationship we share with the State of Louisiana and the affected parishes," the agency said. Click HERE to read the entire response.  

In an email, the area spokesperson for Red Cross wrote, "We had a productive meeting... to discuss the state-led effort to update the Unified Shelter Plan and how we can all contribute to its improvement. We acknowledged those aspects that went well during the recent floods but also focused on how we can build better procedures to address our common challenges. We look forward to building on our strong partnership with the state, as we all continue to serve the needs of people affected by this disaster."

The meeting with Red Cross comes on the same day the online, investigative news agency ProPublica posted a scathing report outlining email exchanges between top state leaders over what some called a failure of the Red Cross in responding to the flood. ProPublica is a non-profit, web-only" independent... newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest."

"They failed for 12 days," James Gilmore wrote about the Red Cross in an email to a representative in the governor's office. Gilmore is the director of the Children's Cabinet, a body that makes recommendations to the governor on funding priorities for new and expanded programs for children and youth.

In other emails obtained by the news site, officials wrote of reports about a shelter being without food or water for 24 hours one weekend. Additionally, a woman gave birth with no medical assistance. In another situation, less than half of planned meals were served because Red Cross workers showed up late.

The Red Cross was chartered by Congress in 1900 to serve as a medium between members of the armed forces and their families and to provide national and international disaster relief and mitigation.

Following the flood, the Red Cross ran shelters across the region. People who stayed at shelters have complained of accommodations and treatment. Click HERE to read more from WBRZ.com on complaints and a response from the Red Cross. 

The Red Cross argued the internet story highlighted only what people thought the agency did not do.  A spokesperson said the Red Cross supplied 1.3 million meals and snacks; almost 700,000 relief items, and 81,000 overnight stays in shelters – "all at zero cost to the State of Louisiana," the spokesperson wrote. 

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Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz

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