My name is Rosaline Fernandez, and after Hurricane Sandy I was devastated. Nearly everyone in my community in Atlantic Beach, Nassau County, NY, was impacted. My apartment of 9 years was destroyed by mold – nearly all of our furniture, clothes, books, heirlooms, and photographs – were all gone. I'm a single mom and my three kids and I were homeless. I was overwhelmed and feeling lost. I was so thankful when American Red Cross told me they were going to help me with rental and specific furniture assistance. We were filled with hope... until something horrible happened.
Without any warning, American Red Cross changed several of the Program’s eligibility rules. Just like that, my family -- along with as many as 1,000 other Sandy survivors -- were no longer eligible for the assistance we had counted on because of seemingly random changes that even surprised many of our caseworkers.
Like so many others, the American Red Cross’s Move-In Assistance Program was the help we needed to get back on our feet. We were so ready to move on with our lives. I even found a new apartment and the landlord completed the paperwork provided by Red Cross. We couldn’t understand why the Red Cross would suddenly move the goalpost for eligibility for the program leaving hundreds of victims and their families behind right as we were prepared to settle in to new homes and rebuild.
Millions of people across the country donated hundreds of millions of dollars to American Red Cross, trusting that they were helping people like me and my neighbors. The Move-In Assistance Program could have been a lifesaver for families who lost everything. Instead, it has been a nightmare.
• One family, first told that they would get assistance, was denied aid because they stayed with friends after the storm instead of taking a FEMA funded hotel room.
• Another family was forced to stop construction on their home after American Red Cross reversed their eligibility for promised rebuilding funds.
• A retired couple was forced to exhaust their savings after American Red Cross reneged on their offer to help.
Its been almost a year since Sandy and I still haven't received the assistance I was promised by American Red Cross. As a result, my kids and I are still displaced. A complaint against the American Red Cross was filed with the Attorney General of New York months ago, but we’re still waiting for accountability. That’s why I started this petition.
It is not right to give people hope and then take it away. If we don't speak up now, the Red Cross could do this to survivors of disaster in other communities. Please join me in asking the American Red Cross to give Sandy survivors like me the aid they were promised and restore the original eligibility requirements of the Move-In Assistance Program.
If you donated to the American Red Cross after Hurricane Sandy, please share a comment with your thoughts below!