Mayor Sylvester Turner has strong words for Red Cross after problems surface

By Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter

HOUSTON - Houston's mayor, Sylvester Turner, is now weighing in on controversy over the Red Cross. This comes after many people have questioned where the millions of dollars in resources given to the Red Cross are going.

"If you promise people something, you got to make it happen because – otherwise -- don't promise at all," Turner said.

Many Harvey survivors claimed they are not getting the assistance promised by the organization, specifically $400 promised to families who survived the flood.

The Red Cross said its system for the program went down Monday and representatives did not know when it would be up.

Porter resident Wanda Short said she lost everything in the flood.

"I slept in my car for three days and I finally got a room, but I'm just devastated," Short said. "I'm disabled, but I still get around. I still take care of my house and my yard ... but it's all gone."

She and her daughter Kelley Coats depended on the Red Cross.

"I left my name, my number, my address. I left her address, not one single word back," Coats said. "My mom flagged them down in the neighborhood, and they didn't even get out of the car. They talked to her through the window and said ... call the Red Cross number."

So Short called and waited five hours only to be told she couldn't be helped.

"They said, 'Well there's no more funds available. Try back another time,’” Short said.

More than $300 million has been donated to the Red Cross. The mayor said he understands helping people on this scale is difficult, but he said the organization should give people answers.

"If the Red Cross, if anyone … If I tell you I'm going to do this, and I don't do it, then I have to be willing to accept the criticism because right now, when people are in a very difficult situation, they're relying on what you tell them. And, if you say you're going to do a, b, c or d you better do a, b, c, or d or you better get out front very quickly and tell people why you can't do a, b, c or d," Turner said.

Answers are what Short's family said she deserves.

"She's already been through enough. The last thing she needs is to be lied to," Coats said.

The Red Cross sent this statement around 4:30 p.m. Friday:

"On September 21, the Red Cross plans to launch a single website where severely impacted households from 39 Texas counties can apply for $400. We expect the website to have sufficient capacity to handle all registrations; applications will not be accepted through any other website or phone number. Registration will remain open until October 10."

Click links below for details and a FAQ on the program:

Hurricane Harvey financial assistance

Financial assistance for qualified households after Harvey

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