Red Cross Needs Help

by Christa Lollis

Rita and Katrina wreaked havoc on East Texas damaging the area and sending evacuees into several shelters throughout the region. Through it all the Red Cross was there, but now funding issues are concerning the county judge, Wes Suiter. He explains, "We've come to rely on them as part of our emergency operations plan and sheltering so it would be a big blow, a major blow for our plan if they were to shut their doors this time of year if we did have a major storm come through."

The Lufkin Red Cross assured KTRE that their doors won't be closing but there could be cuts. The national Red Cross has a 209 million dollar debt that's tightening the budget. "We depend on our national organization to help support us so with our house fires, the flood we had in San Augustine, those type of things we do receive funding to help cover the costs for what we're short on the local level," Glenna Harkness with the Red Cross in Lufkin said. National budget cuts will hurt Lufkin if there is a disaster. "We are a sheltering hub and one of the 6 evacuations sites designated in the state of Texas," Suiter said.

So to keep East Texas moving the local office needs local help. Harkness explains, "Red Cross can only be as strong as the local community and I think there's a misconception that Red Cross is a government agency that were part of FEMA. We are not, we are a, we are mandated by congress to respond to disasters but we are not funded by congress." That's why they need East Texans to keep lending a hand and keep the donations coming in.