Hurricanes bring cash, criticism to American Red Cross

NEW YORK (AP) – After confronting back-to-back major hurricanes, the American Red Cross has received a huge outpouring of financial support - and a simultaneous barrage of criticism.

Combined donations to the Red Cross for hurricanes Harvey and Irma have topped $300 million. But even as the money pours in, critics at major news outlets and on social media are advising donors to direct their gifts elsewhere.

More than 50 local and national charities have raised more than $350 million in the nearly three weeks since Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast. Houston Texans football star J.J. Watt, raised more than $30 million, largely through social media. More than $50 million went to a local fund set up by the Houston mayor and the Harris County judge.

Much of the current mistrust of the Red Cross arises from the aftermath of other major disasters over the past 16 years.

After the 2001 terror attacks, the Red Cross irked many donors by earmarking some 9/11 gifts for unrelated purposes. It was also widely criticized for its response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and later acknowledged problems that included overwhelmed volunteers and inadequate anti-fraud measures.

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