Georges saps Red Cross resources Cost tops $100 million

new fund-raiser planned

October 16, 1998|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

WASHINGTON -- Hurricane Georges, which pummeled the Caribbean, Florida Keys and Gulf Coast last month, is financially draining the American Red Cross.

The disaster has cost the organization more than $100 million, topping the $81.5 million of 1992's Hurricane Andrew, which severely crippled Florida's Miami-Dade County in 1992.

Georges' devastation has prompted the Federal Emergency Management Administration to seek billions in supplemental aid to help rebuild housing and damaged infrastructure across the southern United States and in Puerto Rico. Congress is expected to approve that request today, when it is scheduled to finish work on an overall federal spending bill for the coming fiscal year.

The Red Cross disaster fund stands at about $88 million, not enough to cover its anticipated costs of helping to provide temporary housing, clothing, supplies and food vouchers for those still displaced in areas hardest hit by the storm. The Red Cross is hoping to replenish its depleted finances by collecting $50 million in an emergency fund-raising campaign.

There are 193 shelters open in Puerto Rico, housing 10,049 people, and more than 144,000 islanders have registered for disaster assistance, FEMA said.

In all, 187,402 families have been affected by Georges, the Red Cross said.

Pub Date: 10/16/98

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