Red Cross: Some denied Harvey relief money due to computer errors

Many of those affected by Hurricane Harvey are still waiting for the $400 of assistance they were promised.

HOUSTON - Many of those affected by Hurricane Harvey are still waiting for the $400 of assistance they were promised.

Red Cross officials say they are still processing tens of thousands of applications and if you get denied, it might be because of a simple typo.

One Fort Bend County family we met on Monday was denied twice before finally getting approved. They had 9 inches of water inside their home in Grand Mission.

Their home, full of memories, flooded for the first time during the historic storm.

"Just enough to touch and ruin everything," said Zishan Yousuf.

When the Red Cross denied Yousuf's application for the $400 assistance program, he had no idea why.

"It was very surprising, especially because we both donated to Red Cross in the past and in our time of need it was very disheartening," he said.

After being denied, he sent back an email with a news clip of his family being rescued. Two hours later, he got approved.

"It's really concerning knowing there's so many other people out there in need," said Yousuf.

On Monday, KENS 5 sister station KHOU sat down with the Red Cross to get answers.

We learned the initial application is approved through a computer system, not a caseworker. A  spokesman told us the number one reason applications get denied is incorrect addresses.

"I think it all starts with the fact that there are extra measures in place to help prevent fraud," said Rick Harvey, a spokesman for the Red Cross.

KHOU used their temporary address on the University of Houston campus as an example, 4343 Elgin.

Depending on if we put street or just the abbreviation, Harvey told us the entire application could be kicked back.

However, Yousuf says there were no mistakes on his application. Even though he has his money, he worries for the people who can't jump through hoops like he did to get it.

"There needs to be answers as to why, because there's no rhyme or reason. I think that would help people understand why they didn't get approved," he said.

If you get denied, you can appeal through the link they give to you or call 1-800-Red-Cross. One woman told KHOU, when she called, she was on hold for 3.5 hours.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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