Canadian Red Cross says money on the way for tornado victims who hadn't yet registered

Money is starting to flow today from the Red Cross to victims of September’s tornadoes who hadn't yet seen a penny.

The aid organization has been criticized in recent days for its slow response and today said it regrets that. It's not just the Red Cross that's been under fire.  Enbridge has been criticized for waiting weeks to cut off gas to homes heavily damaged in the tornado stalling demolition permits.

Today both organizations were reacting, with some folks saying this whole response has been bungled.

The trucks were out in full force today in Dunrobin after the Ontario Premier's office stepped in to push Enbridge to move on this.

“We’re just here to cut the gas services off,” one employee with Enbridge told CTV news.

For some homeowners, that meant they could finally move forward applying for a demolition permit.  About 5 houses were still in the queue, waiting for that to happen. Enbridge said it would have all gas service disconnections completed by Friday.

It's been 6 weeks since powerful tornadoes swept through the region. The councillor for the area is frustrated with Enbridge but his anger is directed at the Canadian Red Cross for leaving residents in the lurch.

“The tornado took place September 21st, says councilor Eli El-Chantiry, “Today is November 1st. Really 6 weeks?  And today, the Red Cross says to some of those families that they will give them $600 or $800 cash money. So the people who ran that night, who had no credit cards,no clothes because everything was at home and they have nothing to show?  They waited 6 weeks.  That’s the question. So when the Red Cross says they learned from the past, seriously?”

Today, the Red Cross announced additional support for tornado victims who had registered but hadn't yet received anything.

“You know, we regret that people felt there wasn't assistance,” says Tanya Elliott, the Vice-President Ontario with the Canadian Red Cross.

Households with 3 or fewer people will get $600.  And those with 4 or more will get $800. The Red Cross says, so far 446 households have registered with them for financial help.  It's encouraging anyone else who hasn’t registered to contact them at1-800-863-6582 or visit one of the in-person locations at 5670 Carp Rd in Kinburn or at the Woodvale Pentecostal Church in Arlington Woods. 

The Red Cross raised $1.3 million dollars in donations following these tornadoes.  $720,000 was earmarked for Ontario - but the aid organization won’t say how much it's disbursed.

“That number changes hourly right now, says Elliott, “We've seen a huge increase in the number of people coming forward in the past week and that increases daily. Of the households registered with us, more than three-quarters have received financial assistance.”

One woman in Dunrobin that CTV News spoke with who didn't want to be identified just got $800 last night from the Red Cross.  She says it is the first money her family has seen.

“Why this has been bungled so badly?” says Kate Bahen with Charity Intelligence Canada. Bahen says following the Fort McMurray fires, the Red Cross managed to allocate a quarter of all the donation money by day seven.

“This is Ottawa and the Red Cross is headquartered in Ottawa.  This is a disaster response in its own back yard.”

In the meantime, Eli El-Chantiry is giving Red Cross the benefit of the doubt.

“Presumably they will stick to it and help those families as quickly as possible.”

The other issue these homeowners are going to have to deal with is getting their properties reassessed.  Clearly many of the homes there aren't worth what they were before September 21st. The city is working with MPAC, the company that sets the assessment levels, to visit the area.