Red Cross Suffering From Drop in Donations

Red Cross Suffering From Drop in Donations

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Jed Boal reportingThe Disaster Relief Fund is severely depleted, and it couldn't have happened at a tougher time.

The Disaster Relief Fund enables the Red Cross to give emergency assistance in major disasters, like a hurricane, or smaller disasters like a house fire or wildfires here in Utah.

Nationally and locally, the funds are suffering.

South Carolina native Matthew Hurtes has seen his share of hurricanes. When Hurricane Hugo hammered South Carolina in 1989, Hurtes voluteered with the Red Cross, then decided to make a career of it.

Today, as Emergency Services Director for the Salt Lake chapter, he says nationwide the Red Cross needs help so it can keep on helping.

Matthew Hurtes/ Red Cross Emergency Services: "All of our funding is donations. So we are only able to provide services if we have those donated dollars to do so."

The Disaster Relief Fund faces a small disaster of its own. With only $1.2 million in the national fund, it has hit an 11-year low.

Regardless, trucks are ready on the East Coast, if there are victims of Hurricane Isabel. Ready with the essentials, like shelter, food, clothing and medicine.

Matthew Hurtes/Red Cross Emergency Services: "We try not to change our services based on our funding, whether it's national or local response. We want to provide equal services."

To cope, the organization regionalized some resources and started training more volunteers.

Local offices have separate disaster relief budgets to respond in their communities.

Here in Utah the chapter deals with one or two disasters a week--many house fires, wildfires and storm damage.

Donations are down, but for now they have not had to cut back.

Matthew Hurtes/Red Cross Emergency Services: "If funding continues to drop, we may have to look at that and scale back on some of the services we provide."

Hurricane season is the most challenging for the Red Cross. Hurricanes can victimize thousands of people.

If the fund is not replenished, the charity may need to cut back on financial assistance to victims.

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