KATRINA HOME DRIVE
HURRICANE KATRINA: WHERE'S THE MONEY?
this period, Kirby became an outspoken activisit and advocate on behalf
of Hurricane Katrina survivors. Mainstream news media accounts of
monies donated to help victims of the deadly storm clashed with the
reality Kirby heard on a daily basis from those displaced and who found
themselves destitute throughout all 50 states.
contacted the American Red Cross in Washington, DC to find out more
about a program meant to help survivors, but which, in fact, almost
never existed to being a hush-hush Red Cross project. Jeanne Ellinport, a
spokesperson for the Red Cross told Sommers there was going to be "no outreach to survivors."
Kirby went into research mode and tracked down?Art Agnos ,?who had been the?mayor of San Francisco during the Loma Prieta earthquake?of '89.
Agnos confirmed what Sommers already knew: Red Cross runs off with the
money.?He disclosed they had done the very same thing with money raised
after the quake.
furious Agnos treatened to expose their tactics to donors?when?the Red
Cross?was about to take off with money?he believed belonged to?his
city.?The American Red Cross was forced to back down and Agnos was able
to properly allocate the funds. He suggested Sommers go public with the
Kirby contated The New York Times who then ran a story
about?the 'Means to Recovery' program. In Sommers opinion, they did a
lousy job. She?asked Shaila Dewan, one of?the two journalists who wrote
the story (Stephanie Strom , national correspondent with the NYT since
2002 being the other)?not to include her name in the piece. "They
glossed over the entire problem and instead of exposing?the Red Cross'
deceptive ways gave them an out."?Sommers added:?"For example, the $39
million dollars mentioned was in actually twice the amount with the
other half?going to salaried employees of the Red Cross. Why not
disclose that too?"?
the article helped put an end to public?statements made by the Red
Cross's?that 'Means to Recovery' didn't exist, but was only a rumor -?in
Sommers opinion it failed to expose them for their systematic?habit of
not using?donations for?the?disasters in whose name the money?is
raised.?"The article never even?hinted about possible misappropriation
of funds,"?Kirby exclaimes.?One of the?primary concerns?Sommers shared
with Dewan during the multiple interviews?she gave while the
NYT?journalists worked on the story.
Kirby reveals, "was to make a call to?Red Cross headquarters in
Washington and got a statement. That's not investigative reporting."