OTR Interviews

Red Cross Counts on Public Donations to Help Fla.

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," Sept. 6, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight: Floridians are bracing for another hurricane, this one named Ivan, as six million are without power and at least four are dead, as Frances strikes the U.S. for the second time. Let's go straight to Fox's Rick Leventhal, on location at the Red Cross center in Martin County — Rick.

RICK LEVENTHAL, FOX CORRESPONDENT: Well, Greta, we're at Martin County High School in Stuart, that's serving as a shelter for about 200 people and also a staging area for the American Red Cross. The biggest problem facing residents in this area right now, of course, is still a lack of power. This shelter doesn't even have electricity, but they do have running water here, which is obviously a good thing. The lack of power also means that there are streetlights out all over the place and traffic lights out, as well, which is why a curfew remains in effect across this county.

Businesses also affected, of course, including gas stations and restaurants. We found the only open gas station in Stuart, where the line stretched way down the street, several blocks or more. It took up to two hours to get to the pumps and fill up. We passed another line about a half mile long on the Florida turnpike. This is one of the only other places to find fuel north of Miami in this vicinity. By the way, tolls still suspended on the toll roads.

We also saw a convoy of National Guard trucks, some of them with generators. There are 8,000 National Guardsmen now working across Florida, setting up command posts, where they're helping coordinate and distribute emergency services and supplies.

Now, Frances may not have been as strong as once feared, but all of that rain certainly brought lots of flooding, several feet of water in some spots and the emotional and financial toll still very high, damages being assessed at this hour, but they could reach up to $10 billion in insured losses. St. Lucie County, for example, to the north of us, estimating its losses at about $2.03 billion. Florida Power & Light customers lost power in the storm. That's 6 million residents in the dark, and it could take up to two weeks for some of those people to get the juice back on.

We're joined now by Chris Paladino from the American Red Cross. Chris, giving has been down. Charitable giving has been down. And you guys are already dealing with the financial toll of Hurricane Charley. Do you have enough money to do the job?

CHRIS PALADINO, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Well, we are, first of all, committed to spend whatever we need to spend to make sure people are taken care of. So we shouldn't be worried about running out of funds. But I will tell you that we started this Hurricane Charley with only $800,000 in our disaster relief fund. We know we're going to spend about $50 million on Charley alone and have raised only $30 million so far. So we're really starting our effort here with Frances about $20 million in the hole.

LEVENTHAL: Well, how do pay the bills if you don't have the money?

PALADINO: Well, we're counting on the American public to come through, as they always have, and make a financial contribution to the Red Cross.

LEVENTHAL: And how many volunteers do you have working down here now?

PALADINO: Wow, it's very difficult to count. We know we have over 5,300 volunteers from around the country who've joined thousands of local volunteers and we have even more coming.

LEVENTHAL: All right, Chris Paladino, thanks very much for joining us. Obviously, the Red Cross still has a lot of needs and the people down here, Greta, still in a lot of trouble, and more trouble ahead, perhaps.

VAN SUSTEREN: It sure looks that way. Thank you, Rick.

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