Red Cross working out bugs in pilot program

It's supposed to get money to victims quickly, but it's turning into a nightmare for those already suffering.

The past month has been filled with a lot of ups and downs for Eric Pittman. He is one of many who left the Rockport area after Hurricane Harvey destroyed homes.

On Aug. 26, Pittman turned to a shelter in the area, where he learned about $400 in emergency assistance from the Red Cross for those impacted by the storm.

Pittman says he applied a few days later. However, a month has passed and Pittman says he hasn’t received anything. In fact, he says he was denied.

“The system would crash. I don't know if they were giving them to Irma [victims] at the same time and everything  went down,” Pittman said.

Pittman is currently living at a bed and breakfast in San Marcos.

Rick Harvey, a spokesperson from the Red Cross, spoke to KVUE by phone from Houston Monday.

Harvey said the $400 emergency assistance is a pilot program. Case workers will meet one-on-one with families to determine need, which is based on qualified households in the most impacted areas within 39 counties.

On the website, people enter their contact and home information and answer a few questions about how the storm impacted them.

Harvey admits there have been issues.

“The website went down due to unforeseen circumstances, but we have the website back up and it is a slow process,” Harvey said

On top of this, Harvey said the organization has so many things in place to prevent fraud. Checking eligibility is causing a delay, as well.

“The website is very picky when people enter their information and that is causing some people to be declined early on,” Harvey said.

In the meantime, Pittman is looking ahead to a brighter future. He said he has no plans on going back to the Rockport area.

Harvey says they're looking into what happened in Pittman's case.

There is an appeal process and Pittman plans to do just that. The Red Cross stated Tuesday that 91 cents of every dollar donated to hurricane relief efforts goes directly to the relief efforts. The rest is divided up by administrative costs and other things. For more information on emergency assistance, click here

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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