9NEWS tracks donated relief money

6:33 PM, Sep 20, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - Many who have donated to the Red Cross to help with flood recovery efforts have questions, like where their money is going?

Catie Wheatley with the American Red Cross answered some of those questions

DOES THE MONEY STAY IN COLORADO?

"It's my understanding the telethon was designated for Colorado floods, because those funds are restricted. Those funds will stay to help the people impacted by those floods."

WHERE DOES THAT MONEY GO EXACTLY?

"Our focus is on the immediate emergency-related needs. Often times that means food, clothing, shelter. Those are the basic three. We really work on getting people a safe place to stay, enough to eat and then some necessities to get through the next little period of time. Once the water recedes, we have full access to the impacted areas. We'll be able to start more significant client case work from there."

HOW MUCH ASSISTANCE CAN YOU GIVE PEOPLE?

"Every disaster is different, so a lot of the specifics of that are dependent upon the disaster itself. How big it is by a number of people impacted, the level to which they are impacted and then how big it is - the geography that's impacted. In this instance, we're too early in our relief operations to answer some of those questions."

WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT A DISASTER, HOW LONG DO YOU STAY?

"It really truly varies by disaster. The bottom line, the Red Cross will stay in the area until the services the Red Cross offers have been fulfilled. That is just dependent upon what we find on the ground."

WHAT ARE YOU DOING RIGHT NOW?

"Number one is shelter. We, as of Sunday night, had a 1000 shelter stays. Last night, we had over 200 shelter stays. That's a clear need we're able to meet right now. We also are focusing on feeding. We're also doing a lot of health and mental health service provisions. Some people need eye glasses. Some people need their medications, things of that nature."

DOES THIS MILLION NOW GO TO RE-FILL YOUR BANK ACCOUNTS SINCE YOU'VE SPENT THE MONEY ALREADY COMING IN?

"We work very hard to honor donor intent. It's a very important facet of our fundraising operation. But the other piece is asking the American public when they open up their hearts and their pocket books so generously is to consider giving to disaster relief. Disaster relief operations are expensive. When we ask people to give to disaster relief it allows us to have that flexibility to pull from a pot of money that's specified for this disaster or future disasters."

CAN YOU CUT SOMEBODY A CHECK?

"At this point in the disaster relief operation those decisions haven't been made. A lot of that will rest on the assessments that are made once all of the impacted areas are open and we have more access there. In general, what the Red Cross focuses on is immediate emergency relief. We focus most of our attention on the immediate aftermath of a disaster. With that being said, [the floods] is a large disaster relief operation. It is to be expected we'll be here for weeks and months ahead."

DO YOU TYPICALLY CUT PEOPLE CHECKS?

"It depends on the disaster. There are instances when the Red Cross does offer financial assistance, and that is up to job management and varies from disaster to disaster."

WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING ONCE THE ROADS OPEN?

"One of the things that are is really big is personal hygiene items: tooth paste, tooth brush, shampoo. Another thing that people are really going to need are cleaning supplies to help the recovery process, to start getting back in their homes. One thing we give a lot of is bottled water, especially when there are water safety concerns."

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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