Red Cross Funds Are Hard To Track

The Red Cross Service Center in Lufkin is down to its last storm victims. Over the past few days, volunteers have helped about 600 of them get half a million dollars to help renovate their homes and restore their lives after Rita.

Denise Riggins, director of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross, said, "We're about empowering people to make their own choices. The money, obviously, is for food and clothing. They can use it for whatever they choose. We hope that they choose to use it well."

Red Cross volunteers don't keep track of how the money's actually being spent, but they do have a way of keeping track of who's gotten help and who hasn't.

"We have a system that works in coordination with FEMA and other organizations. FEMA, of course, is the government, we are not, but we do coordinate so that we all know what everybody is getting so people aren't getting double and triple benefits."

The money Red Cross provides is meant to be a short-term, temporary fix for storm victims' immediate needs. The help is just enough to get them by until permanent, long-term assistance becomes available - the kind of help they can only get from FEMA.

The Red Cross center in Lufkin has helped hundreds of local and Gulf Coast storm victims get financial assistance. That money comes from donations from everyday citizens in the community.