EAST ISLIP, Suffolk County - A source inside the Greater New York Region Red Cross tells 7 On Your Side Investigates that the agency is unprepared to handle mass sheltering in the event a major storm hits Long Island.
The whistleblower who did not want to be identified, claims that hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency supplies have been ruined after being stored in leaky storage containers. The Red Cross has strategically placed storage containers nearby all 45 designated shelters throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Pictures supplied to us seem to back up at least part of the source's claims of damaged emergency supplies. More than a dozen photographs show cots, blankets , and medical kits have been ruined by water. The "insider" claims hundreds of thousands of dollars in supplies have been damaged and have yet to be replaced.
In response to our investigation, the Red Cross disputes the damage is widespread, but acknowledges that in their last inspection two storage containers were in need of repairs and another storage box needs to be replaced after damaged supplies were found inside. A Red Cross spokesperson says the agency "has a robust system in place to inspect, repair and replace boxes and supplies." But we found several storage containers with serious rust and patched-work roofs. The Red Cross insists that it's only "cosmetic and do not compromise the contents inside."
Dr. Irwin Redlener, Director for the Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, says the pictures seem to underscore a breakdown in leadership that has led to sloppiness in the Red Cross inspection process. He says there are few places more populated and vulnerable to storm surge than Long Island which makes the whistleblower's claims disturbing and in need of an investigation.
SHARE YOUR STORY
Do you have a story that needs to be investigated? 7 On Your Side Investigates at Eyewitness News want to hear from you!
Email your questions, issues, and story ideas to 7OnYourSideJim@abc.com, call our confidential tip line 1-877-TIP-NEWS (847-6397), or fill out the form above.
You can also contact Jim Hoffer on Facebook and Twitter.