Misinformation Hurting Area Charities - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/20/04

Misinformation Hurting Area Charities

American Red Cross workers say they're dealing more with a misinformed public than they are with legitimate storm victims. On Monday morning 3,000 people lined up outside at the Jackson County Civic Center where the Red Cross is operating its family services center.

On Sunday, we told you about long lines where about 1,000 people had arrived seeking assistance. WLOX aired a plea from the American Red Cross for people not to come here unless they had already had already been approved for help. Even with that report, the crowds tripled on Monday. Red Cross officials believe rumors and innuendo are causing problems.

Jackson County sheriff's deputies and mounted patrol officers took control of what American Cross workers say could have easily become a crisis situation.

Family Services director Ray Fishencord said "I'm worried about giving people the best service I can. I can't worry about crowd control and without them providing that stability factor, we would have just had to close this down and walk away."

Police also got a call American Red Cross office on Jackson Street on Monday. Red Cross officials say people showed up because they'd heard they could receive food as well help with their utility bills. When they heard that wasn't true they became irate.

"It just reminds me of that telephone game that you play when you are little where you start out with a message or a word and you whisper it down the line and it come out as something complete different," said Paige Roberts, Red Cross Executive Director. "Well, this is the adult reality version of that game and its upsetting to us because we really are doing a good thing here."

Red Cross workers say there is still a lot of work to be done and too much of that work is being created by people who either don't need it or who can afford to wait.

"Real concerns and the legitimate needs that are out there that we are meeting are having to wait just a little bit longer because my attention and our resources are getting diverted," said Roberts.

The bottom line Roberts says unless you hear it from a Red Cross worker, don't believe it.

United Way is also dealing with problems caused by wrong information being put out. Officials say someone passed out flyers at the Civic Center telling people they could receive food from the United Way which is a service the agency does not provide.

by Danielle Thomas

Powered by Frankly