ARLINGTON — Robin Youngblood, whose home was destroyed in the March 22 Oso mudslide, said Tuesday she would like to know who is getting the donation money, who’s deciding and how much is being distributed.
“They’ve taken in millions,” Youngblood said. “They’re saying that it’s going to the recovery effort. So where is the money going?”
She said she’s received $32,000 in grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), $1,000 from the Red Cross and $5,000 from The United Way.
“It’s going to take at least a couple of years to get back on our feet,” Youngblood said.
She contacted Q13 FOX News because, others we spoke to, she’s concerned as to how and where the donations are being funneled for victims like herself.
Neil Parekh of The United Way said they`re doing all they can to keep the transactions transparent.
“For the most part, families have received between $5,000 and $10,000 to help with these immediate needs and, as we get into the weeks and months away from the slide, more money will be available and more money will be disbursed,” he said.
So far, The United Way said it has collected just over $2 million. Of that, about $1.2 million has been distributed to local aid organizations. And of the $1.2 million, more than $800,000 has already been given to families in need.
FEMA said Tuesday that each affected household has received up to $32,400 per home — that money can be used for a variety of things including: replacing household items, home repairs and temporary housing. Victims must keep receipts of those purchases. And if a victim receives a household item as a donation, that dollar amount will then be deducted from the FEMA grant.
“Donations that come in physical form shouldn’t be treated any differently than cash donations,” Youngblood said. “They are meant to help us during this time of crisis, they shouldn’t be counted against FEMA (money). I understand it’s a legal issue here but they shouldn’t be counted against us.”
Technicalities and legalities aside, Youngblood said the money she’s received so far just isn’t enough to get by, let alone rebuild.
“In the end, if we have to account for all these donations, we’re not gonna have a dime in our pockets … how do we start over from that?”
A spokesperson with the American Red Cross said late Tuesday night that it continues to provide comfort and support to those affected by the slide and will do so in the weeks and months ahead.