2002-02-16 / Community

Millions In 9/11 Assistance Being Provided

The American Red Cross today announced that it would provide an additional $360 million in support to people affected by the September 11th attacks. The final plan for the Liberty Disaster Fund calls for $240 million in additional financial assistance; $80 million for long-term services to those affected; and $25 million in immediate disaster relief. Overall, the Red Cross expects to spend $850 million to help people affected by the terrorist attacks, including families of the deceased, people seriously injured in the attacks, displaced residents, economically affected individuals and disaster workers. Ninety percent of this aid will be disbursed by the first anniversary in September 2002.

The plan to distribute the remainder of the donations was developed in consultation with former United States Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who in December agreed to become the Independent Overseer of the Liberty Disaster Fund, the separate, segregated account established by the American Red Cross to fund relief efforts in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Senator Mitchell and the Red Cross developed the plan with input from the families directly affected, donors, other charities, and Red Cross workers with long-term experience assisting in the aftermath of disasters.

"The Liberty Fund plan is the result of a truly collaborative effort by everyone with a stake in the process," said Senator George Mitchell, the former United States Senate Majority Leader. "The result is one that holds true to the intent of the donors and ensures we are meeting both the immediate and long-term needs of the families."

The three-part plan is premised on a belief that the "recipients of these monies are in the best position to assess their own immediate and long-term needs and to choose how to use the monies in meeting those needs." Thus, the plan emphasizes the prompt disbursement of additional financial aid while at the same time maintaining the Red Cross' commitment to help people with ongoing or unanticipated needs.

Here are the plan's three main features:

Financial Assistance to Those Directly Affected.

Of the $360 million remaining in the Fund, the plan calls for the distribution of $240 million to families of the deceased, people seriously injured in the attacks, displaced residents, economically affected individuals and disaster workers. There are several components to this aid.

As previously announced the Red Cross is extending the Family Gift Program to provide a full year of living expenses to families of the deceased or missing, and persons seriously injured in the attacks. To date, assistance for nine months of expenses has been distributed. The final three-month distribution totaling $40 million will be made in 2002.

The Red Cross will also distribute one-time, supplemental gifts of about $45,000 to each of the estates of the deceased and seriously injured, totaling approximately $125 million. For families who have participated in the Family Gift Program, this means an average financial gift of $109,000.

The plan also allows for $15 million to assist those beneficiaries of the Family Gift Program who are not eligible for a supplemental gift, do not receive significant sums from other sources, or otherwise have compelling financial needs. For instance, extended family members or nontraditional family members who may not be the beneficiary of a victim's estate, but who did receive benefits from the Family Gift Program, may receive some additional assistance from the Red Cross based on need.

Assistance will also be provided to displaced residents, economically affected individuals and disaster workers. This needs-based support will be assessed on a case-by-case basis out of a budget of $60 million.

Long-Term Services to Those Directly Affected.

The plan allows for $80 million to provide for longer-term disaster relief over a 3-5 year period. This support will include mental health care and uncovered physical health care and overall service support. In addition to the types of assistance that will be funded directly by the Liberty Fund, the Red Cross will work closed with other relief agencies, the 9/11 United Services Group, the September 11th Fund, and other funding organizations to coordinate and jointly fund services and to refer individuals to organizations with the most relevant expertise.

Immediate Disaster Relief.

The plan provides $25 million to support the continuing disaster needs of the communities affected - including maintaining call centers, supporting service centers, and winding-down operations.

The balance of the Fund will be used to cover direct support costs for the effort. To the extent possible, these costs will be provided from the interest earned on the Liberty Fund.

"This plan does a good job of meeting both the immediate needs of a diverse group of people affected by the disasters and the long term needs many families will have," said David McLaughlin, Chairman, American Red Cross Board of Governors. "We made a commitment to listen more closely to the families affected and to our own donors. With this plan, we are keeping our promise and responding directly to the needs and desires of both."

"The tragedy that thousands of families have faced is unprecedented, but so is the response of the Red Cross, its volunteers and its donors," said Harold Decker, CEO, American Red Cross. "I think we can be very proud that within one year of these tragic attacks we will have raised and disbursed more than $750 million in financial aid and services to help almost 58,000 families affected by them."

The Red Cross will release quarterly financial reports on the Liberty Fund and post these reports on its web site. In addition, the organization expects to release its first independent audit of the Liberty Fund, to be performed by KPMG in February. This audit covers the activities of the Fund through October 31. A second audit will be conducted covering all Fund activity through June 30, 2002 and will be released when completed.

Any family or individual in need of assistance or support related to September 11 is urged to contact the American Red Cross at (877) 746-4987.


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