Press Release: Iowa 7.3.08

Charity monitors assistance, doesn’t tolerate fraud

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, Thursday, July 3, 2008 – American Red Cross relief assistance is made possible by generous donations from the American people, who want to be sure their neighbors near and far get the help they need when disaster strikes. The organization constantly monitors its service delivery to be sure it is meeting genuine needs.

“We know that disasters often bring out the best in people,” said volunteer Deb Lancaster, who is leading Red Cross disaster response in Iowa and the Quad Cities area. “But unfortunately, sometimes they bring out the worst in a few people.

“We have procedures that check the validity of identification and when we suspect someone is trying to get help by falsifying the facts, we take action. We cooperate in prosecuting fraud, waste and abuse to the fullest extent of the law.”

In Cedar Rapids, Red Cross’s procedures uncovered facts that led to the arrest this week of individuals who allegedly used false ID to get assistance meant for flood victims.

To date, the Red Cross flood and tornado relief operation in Iowa has opened more than 6,100 emergency assistance cases. Trained interviewers meet with individuals and families face-to-face to discuss their emergency disaster related needs for such things as groceries, clothing or medications. Emergency assistance may also help cover rent or minor repairs that will help people get back into their homes more quickly.

Individuals or families who apply to the Red Cross for assistance must bring some form of identification showing their address, as proof that they lived in the area affected by the disaster.

To report suspected waste, fraud or abuse of Red Cross disaster aid, call the Concerned Connection Line toll-free at 1-888-309-9679. This 24-hour confidential number is answered by a third-party communication specialist who will take the information and give the caller a unique identification number to see how the case has been handled. Callers can remain anonymous.

Red Cross volunteers will be at client service centers from 9 a.m. to noon on Independence Day, July 4, to meet with flood-impacted residents. On Saturday, operations will return to normal hours, which are from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 1-6 p.m. on Sundays. Centers are at:
• Westdale Mall, 2600 Edgewood Road SW, Cedar Rapids (former Osco’s next to JC Penney)
• American Red Cross of Quad Cities, 1100 River Drive, Moline, Ill.

Meanwhile, in Cedar Falls, the last of the residents at the Red Cross evacuation shelter at the University of Northern Iowa are relocating to more long-term accommodations, which will allow the shelter to close.

Flood-impacted residents who find they need shelter or assistance can call 1-866-GET-INFO (1-866-438-4636) toll-free to access services.

Three Red Cross shelters remain open in eastern Iowa:
• Viola Gibson Elementary School, 6101 Gibson Drive NE, Cedar Rapids
• Prairie High School, 401 76th Ave., Cedar Rapids
• Johnson County Fairgrounds, 4261 Oakcrest Hill Road SE, Building A, Iowa City

Mobile feeding trucks circulating through the Wapello area are carrying supplies such as gloves, buckets and bleach for residents cleaning their flood-impacted homes.

All Red Cross bulk distribution sites are now closed.

The Red Cross will continue to adjust services across Iowa as needs change for shelters, meals, snacks, cleanup supplies, physical and mental health services and individual client assistance.

In Iowa, through July 2, the Red Cross has:
• Opened 36 shelters with its partner organizations and provided more than 6,400 overnight stays.
• Served some 637,500 meals and snacks
• Opened more than 6,100 emergency assistance cases.
• Sent 44 emergency response vehicles and 1,630 Red Cross workers.
• Made more than 15,300 first aid and mental health contacts.
• Distributed more than 28,500 clean-up kits.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of flooding and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting


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