The Coca-Cola of Disaster Relief: What's the Red Cross Really Doing for Hurricane Sandy?

Jonathan M. Katz · 11/06/12 03:52PM

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.— On October 30, the day after Superstorm Sandy soaked thousands of homes with a two-story surge of seawater, housewares, and sludge, America's would-be first lady tried to unite a nation her husband spent the previous year helping to divide. Sporting a fire-engine red windbreaker, flanked by election banners and carefully arranged FedEx boxes marked "storm relief," Ann Romney asked a room of swing-state campaign workers to put aside partisan allegiances and perform one "very easy" task: "What I've been tweeting out is to contact [the] American Red Cross," she instructed—either donating via text message, or dropping off blankets and water that would be sent to the national organization. And she had company on that politically neutral ground. The same day, President Obama dropped by the American Red Cross' white-columned national headquarters in Washington to volunteer, in part by manning its official Twitter account. In the days after, the president continued to stress that "supporting the Red Cross is the best and fastest way" to provide aid.