Ottawa

Red Cross grilled at Dunrobin tornado relief meeting

People affected by last month's Ottawa-area tornadoes and the local volunteers who have been working on recovery say the Canadian Red Cross is taking too long to distribute funds to residents.

The Canadian Red Cross says it has raised $1.3M for Ontario tornado relief

Alex Charron, left, is a local volunteer who helped with the immediate relief effort. He said the Red Cross didn't do enough to help people who were displaced by the tornado in Dunrobin. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

People affected by last month's Ottawa-area tornadoes and the local volunteers who have been working on recovery say the Canadian Red Cross is taking too long to distribute funds to residents.

Some people who lost their homes said they haven't seen any of the money raised for Ontario tornado relief go into their community — even as they hear donations being made in their names.

"We know there are funds coming in. We actually know our friends and families have been donating as well," said Emily Glossop, whose home was demolished.

"[We're] just wondering how each individual resident or each individual family will be seeing some of those donations and funds available to support us during our time."

In a statement, the Canadian Red Cross said it has raised $1.3 million for Ontario tornado relief, with $720,000 allocated for family financial assistance.

Tim Johns lost his home, its contents and vehicles because of the tornado. 

"It's very draining," he said.

"I've gone through the ice storm and a bunch of other things and this takes the cake for me."

Tim Johns lost his home, vehicles and has spent a significant part of his savings on the recovery. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

While he's insured, he said it has been a great hardship.

He said he's spent $70,000 from his life savings and been getting support from his employer, the Tomlinson Group, and local donors from the West Carleton Relief Fund — but not the Red Cross.

"We've received nothing out of that $1.3 million dollars that would have helped," he said. 

In the meeting, he challenged the Red Cross to be more transparent about where the money is going.

Dunrobin residents are frustrated that Red Cross hasn't handed out more aid. 1:28

Red Cross responds

Red Cross representatives at Thursday's meeting said the focus was initially on the uninsured because they were the most in need, but the scope of assistance is now being broadened to include people who do have insurance.

Some people said they were told people with insurance wouldn't be able to get any help from the organizations, but the representatives said they should never have been told that.

"We're sorry. That was not the language that was to be used and we know that not everybody got that," Kim Pilkington of the Red Cross told the meeting.

Pilkington said people should register because that's how the Red Cross gauges the needs of the community and distributes assistance.

Some of the damage in the Dunrobin area hardest hit by the tornado on Sept. 21. (Submitted by Nicole Novotny)

A couple of people stood in the meeting to say they received calls and even money from the Red Cross now that they qualify for help.

Coun. Eli El-Chantiry said he's glad the Red Cross has expanded aid to people with insurance. 

He said he is encouraging people to be patient and find a way to work together.

The Red Cross has raised 1.3 million dollars for tornado relief in Ottawa but victims in Dunrobin say that cash isn't flowing to them fast enough. 11:02