Red Tape Prevents Donation Transfers

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Up until now Brazos Valley non-profits and government entities have had one goal, help hurricane victims. However as the storm waters recede, the tide of red tape moves in. One of these rules concerns using donations for Hurricane Katrina to also help victims from Hurricane Rita.

"People who donated for Katrina, the law says that you can't use that for Rita if that makes sense. It may make sense, but it’s not really what we need to do," said Michael Parks, Brazos Valley Council on Governments.

After Rita, the United Way asked for donations just as it did after Katrina. This time, the response wasn't as big. Even though cash, clothes and other items were left over from Katrina, the United Way had to first get permission to use them for Rita evacuees.

"We contacted a couple of donors that had given pretty big amounts for Katrina relief and we said, hey is it ok if we move your money to Rita relief and they said, absolutely," said Hank Roraback, United Way of the Brazos Valley.

There is a fine line when it comes to using funds donated for one catastrophe for another, but with Rita and Katrina that line could have easily been erased with just a few words.

"The specific request was Katrina victim request. Had we gone out and said hurricane relief and had a crystal ball and thought their will be more hurricanes, that would have been great," said Roraback.

Some people who donated for Katrina say they don't mind if their money is used to help victims of Rita.

"It wouldn't upset me because they're not taking away from a disaster survivor to give to somebody else," said Marlea Hopkins, Bryan resident.

But the United Way isn't taking any chances and says the law is structured to keep non-profits from abusing donation money.

"Whereas we're talking a fine line, other organizations might say we're going to redecorate our building because we have money left over," said Roraback.

Even if the intention of the law is good, some still feel this is a case where common sense makes better sense.