I am livid to the point of shaking. Y'all have read about scam web sites claiming "send money! help Katrina's victims!" You've seen the mess made of getting people to safety. And you've seen some stories of families reconnecting, of pets being returned to owners. It's all out there -- the good, the bad and, now, the ugly.
Now comes the time when corporations start trying to capitalize on "Look at us! We're sending help!" Corporations are raising money for disaster relief. Some corporations are earmarking contributions for established emergency relief groups like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Feed the Children... Groups that know how to get aid and comfort to those who need it, now.
Ah, but there are now those corporate charities that are doing things their own way, and that's not always bad. But sometimes it's not so good, either.
I wound up eyeball-deep in a situation where a particular corporation has established its own "caring network." Every employee is being "encouraged" to donate $100 from their own pockets. Each level of corporate structure is donating 10 percent of its gross receipts for 90 days. They raised $1 million in two days and plan to raise $5 million by the end of the month. They'll do so, easily. This is a particularly well-to-do industry.
So where is that money going? It's going to be sent to their peers who worked in the devastated areas.
"They are not the people unable to get out," I was told. "Most did get out, but their homes may have been destroyed. Because their offices were destroyed they have been unable to continue their livelihood right now."
I was told these folks still have to pay the rent on their offices and their phones and other utilities. Yeah. I believe they had a contract that says they have to give money for a space that doesn't even exist any more. Yeah, sure I do. (Pardon my cynicism. If these people have contracts like that, they aren't good business people.)
"Most do not want to relocate at this time because of spouses or other relatives in the area. We have adopted them. We're meeting their immediate needs like replacing their cars if they were destroyed," I was told. "These people are not necessarily destitute, they are just devastated."
Those are second (or third) cars they are talking about replacing, folks. These people had advance notice and were able to pack up their most precious belongings and get out before the hurricane struck. Not one foot in this group touched mud.
Of course they have suffered losses as well. Insured losses. Well insured losses. They are inconvenienced and I'm sure there is a lot of emotional trauma for them as well. I don't doubt that. I wouldn't want to trade places with them. But read on...
"Many of them were able to go stay with relatives or find hotels. We'll pay their hotel bills. They won’t qualify for federal funds like those who were on welfare. These aren't the maids and janitors that you see who couldn't afford to leave. They have a profession. There’s no (business) right now and their market is gone anyway," I was told.
"There’s nothing that will make a person in devastation happier than being handed a $5,000 check."
OK. I'm sure the rich need help too. It may take a few days for them to access their investment portfolios, get into their savings accounts, contact their insurance agents and figure out where they will do business in the future.
But I have a hard time understanding why generous people would be so quick to replace Escalades, BMWs, Lexus SUVs and the like without being a little concerned about helping babies without food or the elderly who were left to die in nursing homes because it was too inconvenient to move them to safety.
Ah, but you see, it's not just financial help, I'm told. We're staying in touch with them to give them emotional support too. We are here to meet their needs, all of them.
I am told.