If a natural disaster occurred Thursday in Utah County financial needs would reach into the millions of dollars - dollars that aren't there.
Corry Tanner, director of the local American Red Cross, said disaster relief funding at the Red Cross, both locally and nationally, has reached critical shortages."Our disaster budget for the year ending June 30, 1992, is already overexpended by several hundred dollars - probably several thousand," Tanner said. "We have had some pretty heavy expenses with single-family fires this year."
The American Red Cross is reeling from back-to-back record years for disasters. Nationally, the cost of giving free assistance to so many people has plunged the organization's disaster relief fund $28 million into the red.
Although low on funding, if Utah County or any other area were hit by disaster, the Red Cross is still prepared to help out. "The National Red Cross is committed to disasters and would utilize funds from other services if needed," Tanner said.
The Utah County Red Cross has been able to help several families this year. Tanner said the local caseload more than tripled during and following Operation Desert Storm.
Tanner said nearly $5,000 each year is allocated locally for direct assistance to families. Other funding provides services such as emergency payment of utility bills for the low-income and elderly.
While multimillion-dollar disasters contributed to the strain on national disaster funds, the Red Cross continues to respond to an annual average of 55,000 disasters.
Already this fiscal year the Red Cross has responded to major disasters such as the Oakland Hills fire; Cyclone Val in American Samoa, which affected 44,000 people and cost almost $15 million; mud slides in Puerto Rico, with an estimated relief cost of $4 million; and ongoing relief operations in Texas where the Red Cross has already committed $2 million for flood victims.
Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole said, "We are in desperate need of financial contributions. If you've ever considered giving to help disaster victims, now is the time."
Tanner echoes Dole's plea. Local residents are encouraged to contribute to the local Red Cross. Donations may be sent to the Red Cross, 865 N. Freedom Blvd., Provo, UT 84604 or to the National American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. The toll-free number for charging a contribution to a credit card is (800) 842-2200.
Barneys plan benefit concert
The Barney family, who received American Red Cross assistance when a fire destroyed their home and musical equipment, is staging a benefit concert to raise funds for the local Red Cross Disaster Service Program.
The concert will be held Monday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Seven Peaks Resort Hotel ballroom. Door prizes will be provided by local merchants.
The Barneys, also known as the Silverados, lost their home and all their band equipment in a propane explosion last October.
"The proceeds from the benefit will be used locally to assist other disaster victims who experience tragedies similar to the Barney family and to purchase communication equipment needed to respond more effectively to area disasters," said Holly Grow, Red Cross emergency service director.
The concert will feature the Silverados and the Dalton Brothers along with cowboy poet Don Kennington. For ticket information call the Red Cross at 373-8580.