Mitt Romney has inexplicably decided to help out the Red Cross in Ohio, an area comparatively unaffected by the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, collecting goods for the relief agency despite long-standing directives from the Red Cross that such “help” can actually divert their resources during an ongoing catastrophe.
Romney’s Red Cross efforts took place far from Sandy’s reach in the swing state of Ohio where the former Massachusetts governor converted campaign events to storm relief efforts, saying of the initiative:
“We have a lot of goods here that these people will need. We have heavy hearts, as you know, with all the suffering going on. There are a lot of people who were hurting this morning, who were hurting last night. We’re going to box them [donations] up, then send them into New Jersey.”
However, a quick browse of the Red Cross FAQ page for guidance to assist during disasters explicitly states that such “help” often bogs the agency down — a bit of information that became widely known during disaster relief in Haiti.
Had Romney read the Red Cross FAQ prior to the efforts, he would have learned that the agency pleads for people not to inundate them with sortable goods, particularly during a tragedy:
“The American Red Cross does not accept or solicit small, individual donations of items for emergency relief purposes. Small items such as collections of food, used clothing, and shoes often must be cleaned, sorted, and repackaged which impedes the valuable resources of money, time, and personnel that are needed for other aspects of our relief operation.“
The Red Cross continues, explaining that the only real way to aid disaster victims is through monetary donations:
“The best way to help a disaster victim is through a financial donation to the American Red Cross. Financial contributions allow the Red Cross to purchase exactly what is needed for the disaster relief operation. Monetary donations also enable the Red Cross to purchase relief supplies close to the disaster site which avoids delays and transportation costs in getting basic necessities to disaster victims. Because the affected community has generally experienced significant economic loss, purchasing relief supplies in or close to the disaster site also helps to stimulate the weakened local economy.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, in the state where Romney used to be governor, advises in their first words on their disaster relief page:
“Donated goods and volunteers that are not specifically needed in a disaster area can hurt more than help. Well-intentioned but ill-conceived shipments of goods and volunteers to an area impacted by a disaster can actually cause a ‘secondary’ disaster, in spite of the fact that donors really only want to help.”
During the events in Ohio, Mitt Romney also reportedly refused to answer questions about how he would handle managing agencies like FEMA in the event of a disaster like Sandy during a Romney presidency.