Red Cross’ unspent millions in Sandy aid have residents furious

Posted at 10:58 PM, May 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-29 22:58:49-04

Staten Island, NY(PIX11) – It took days before the Red Cross showed up to help Staten Island… Leaving many victims to fend for themselves.

Shortly after the storm, Borough president Jim Molinaro lashed out at the organization for it’s lack of response. “I am disappointed and my advice to the people of Staten Island, do not donate to Red Cross!  Let them get their money elsewhere,” he said.

Well, they did get their money elsewhere, to the tune of $300 million, solely for Sandy Relief.  But according to a recent Associated Press report, the organization has only used $100 million of those funds.

New Dorp Beach Sandy victim George Ivinginito told PIX 11, “They didn’t do nothing for me, nothing… It disgusts me.  I’ve had it.  Don’t ever donate to Red Cross. It ain’t worth it.”

The American Red Cross responded Wednesday by saying, “we are currently spending the money committed for Sandy every day on urgent needs for survivors including housing issues, which is the most pressing need at this time.  We are not waiting to spend the money.”

The organization spent some money on Ann Owen.

Just today, the Red Cross sent her a debit card, for more than $1,000 to buy furniture for her home.

“Here you go, its seven months down the road, it took many months to get them to help me,” said Owen.

But in those first days, the help came from the citizens themselves.

Like Ariana’s Catering, which opened a makeshift shelter with food, clothes and toys.

Also Donna Graziano, a Brooklynite, snapped into action for Staten Island.

“I saw the desperation and need to come down so we came with truckloads of food, water, BBQ,” said Graziano.

Graziano has fed and clothed thousands of Sandy victims ever since.  She recently downgraded to a shipping container but she says she still provides food and supplies to about 50 people a day.

“If it wasn’t for people like that, we would have never survived,” said New Dorp Beach resident Dee McGrath.

The Red Cross says disaster recovery work can take years and they need to make sure the money is there for the long haul.