You’re Right to Fear Government Interference During Emergencies

I’ve been watching the recent flooding in Louisiana and the response to those in need. Churches in my area have loaded up trucks and trailers and have coordinated with Louisiana churches to provide assistance. No requirement of church membership, proof of tithing, approval of lifestyle, racial quotas — none of that. It’s just, “You need some diapers for your baby? Here they are.”

That’s how charity is supposed to work. You learn about someone in need and then you find a way to meet that need. The founder of Salvation Army knew this and founded the organization on those principles. You can read his fascinating life story in this book.

“…Freely you have received. Freely give.” Matthew 10:8

So now I read an article about how the Red Cross has been operating in Louisiana, and it reeks of government interference with what most charitable-minded people would like to do. Here’s one example from Nancy Malone, an American Red Cross spokesperson regarding giving food/meals to displaced people:

“We are held accountable to state regulations. This food has to come from a certified kitchen.”

Volunteers were turned away if they hadn’t gone through Red Cross channels. In one case, a woman volunteered to come in and clean bathrooms and toilets but was turned away. Bureaucracy at its finest. In another instance, volunteers put up their own shelter but Red Cross took it over when they finally arrived in town. The goods handed out by Red Cross can only come from their approved suppliers.


In a crisis, whether a natural disaster that dislaces you from your home, war, or TEOTWAWKI, this is exactly how you will be treated by government so-called assistance. Red tape, bureaucrats, nonsensical rules that deny help because of more nonsensical rules. Nothing will come easy. The process will favor a few. Your needs will be met only on occasion and by pure coincidence.

Now, maybe you’re the type who likes to follow every rule even though it flies in the face of common sense. There are plenty of those sheep everywhere. I’m not cut from that cloth, though, and I would bet most preppers aren’t. We want to provide our own meals, our own shelter, our own water, and on and on. Hopefully, we have enough to share and when we do, or can, we want it to be on our own terms — not confiscated from us by officials who think they know better.

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One of the results from large bureaucracies/government taking over charitable giving is that it removes that charitable instinct. Why should I donate or volunteer? FEMA will be along to help. The Red Cross will show up any day now. Without realizing it, we defer to faceless bureaucrats what we are naturally wired to do — help our fellow man.

The best way to do that is to actually get to know your fellow man — through social events, volunteer work, church, community organizations, etc. That way, when there’s a disaster in your area, you will know, first hand, where help is needed, who needs help, and who is coordinating local assistance. Then, you give. If you are handy with tools, you help with rebuilding. If you have a pickup truck, you help with hauling away debris. If all you have are 2 hands, you can help in so many ways. The Civil Air Patrol and CERT are two organizations that offer the type of training that comes in handy during emergency response situations.

I wish I could encourage you to join up with the Red Cross, and there are probably chapters around the country who are not quite as bound by rules and regulations as to be of limited help. One buddy of mine who has worked in emergency response for decades claims that local Red Cross groups¬†can be effective and very helpful. However, I tend to shy away from donating to groups with massive overhead and huge salaries to their top people. That’s just me.

If you don’t want to stand in long lines for bottled water or sign a lengthy form of rules in order to have a roof over your head provided by a government-run shelter, then keep prepping. The alternative is relying on government, or government-like organizations, to decide what you need and what is best for you. That just doesn’t sit well with me.

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29 thoughts on “You’re Right to Fear Government Interference During Emergencies”

  1. Although I know that the Red Cross does many good things for people, I think they are constrained by bureaucracy (just my opinion). Having worked during the recent flooding in WV, I saw it firsthand. We drove nearly 4 hours to work for one week. The community was great – thankful and appreciative. The person in charge – not so much. We had arrived the evening before and went straight to work at the distribution center. No questions asked, but by the next morning, things had changed. We had to complete a form and get an armband before we could work. But before then, we had to wait to be approved — we overheard the woman talking on her cellphone saying she was ‘trying to weed out the bad ones’. These were volunteers she was talking about!! I worked in the largest distribution center and was amazed as trucks, cars, semi-trucks, etc., lined up to bring needed items. Many of these vehicles were from out-of-state. The outpouring of donations and goodwill were amazing. And then, the Red Cross took over the distribution center. Things immediately changed. Examples: stuffed animals all had to have tags (brand new) – even if they looked brand new, they were tossed; no clothing without tags; no linens, towels, etc., without tags; and the list grew of ‘throw aways’ each day. Yes, there were dumpsters filled with bags of clothing out back. The day I quit at the distribution center and went to the field was the day several brand new totes came in on a supply truck. These toes were filled with freshly washed and folded baby clothes. You could tell the person who had filled the tote had done so with loving care. Everything was perfect. I was told ‘toss it, it’s not new’. Thankfully, one of the other volunteers called a local church and they gladly came and took the clothing items. Took being the key word. We were not allowed to ‘give’ the clothing way. It had to go to the dumpster (most of us piled it beside the dumpster hoping someone could use it). The church people had to ‘steal’ it from the dumpster to distribute it — and yes, that clothing was desperately needed! Yes, as you said, food had to be from a ‘certified’ kitchen. Thankfully, the Salvation Army was there. They gladly served food to everyone — whether they were flooded out, volunteers, whatever. Area residents who had not been flooded cooked food in their own homes and set up tables in their front yard – Free Food – including beans & cornbread, etc. Obviously, these residents weren’t using ‘approved’ kitchens, but their efforts to help were greatly appreciated. For those who needed items? Yes, they had to complete another form. Most never made it into the distribution center — instead, they were assigned a ‘personal shopper’ who got the items from their list. I was stunned. I was ‘in charge’ of the hygiene aisles (toothbrushes, medical, toiletries, hygiene, etc.) and when any of the ‘personal shoppers’ came in my aisle (where I was steadily shelving items) I’d ask if they had kids, what ages. I tried to make sure everyone with children had Children’s Tylenol and other items that would’t be on the list. As a mother, I know that fever can occur at the most inopportune time (like when the distribution center is closed) and you need it on hand. Always. How many times has each of us gone shopping only to see an item and immediately think, ‘oh my, I’m out of that !’ and grab it. No such luck here — the personal shopper wouldn’t know these things. And bad enough, some of these personal shoppers (yes, they were volunteers, and we were glad to have them) were 15-year-old boys. They tried so hard to help, but had no idea what ‘hygiene products’ even meant and what would be needed. Thank goodness for all the churches. They took in items, no questions asked. They distributed items, no questions asked. As you said above, “Need diapers? Here’s a pack – have two.” I could go on and on, but this gives you a good idea of what can happen. It was a real eye-opener for me.

    1. Jan, I see your points. As one who has worked a few disasters before, we always had a problem with volunteers who were more committed to themselves than the task at hand. They were not there to help people but to help themselves. So I can see some of their points of screening people.

      Some of the other requirements are just plain BS!

  2. Noah- Thanks for posting this article. Donations from our local church to a church in the disaster area seem to get the best result with the least administrative costs. This is my preference for crisis donations. In non-emergency cases, I use links at to determine the validity and cost effectiveness of the charity before making a donation.

  3. Here in Texas, there have been outside groups, but the main help was neighbor helping neighbor. Texas has always been like that! I’m seeing this happing in Louisiana on Facebook. Yes, there are people who need help from FEMA or others, but the first people to help are our neighbors!

  4. None of the people helping here in South Louisiana were asking for handouts. We were looking out for each other. We gave help where it was needed with no other reason than that we cared. We gave from the heart and will continue to do so till we all get back to where we were. The rules and regulations and fees that are received by the so called “Charity groups” is sad. They take and waste more than they give out. We will always help each other when there is a disaster or any event when help is needed. That’s who we are.

  5. I boxed up some of my shoes (Hubby did the same) that I thought would be helpful to those who flooded – tennis shoes, sandals, even new slippers. I know if I had only the pair I was wearing thru’ the flood, I would be appreciative of them. Along with other clothing (some with tags) and purses, unopened samples of skin lotion and cosmetics, we carried it to a local church which stated it was collecting for the flood victims. We were told they would only accept money, cleaning supplies and non-perishable foods – to take the rest home as it would be disposed of. Ended up taking it to CCC here in Slidell – they are encouraging the flood victims to come visit and have what they can use!! Amazing to me that anyone would believe they wouldn’t need jeans, boots, shoes, etc, etc.!!

  6. Bags of dirty clothing with poopy diapers have been donated at disaster receiving centers. This is a waste of the volunteers time. Donations have to be sorted by size etc. Jeans, shoes, whatever. Due to lice, fleas, and other unwanted guests, donations have to go through a receiving center before they go to the distribution center near / in the disaster site. Stories above share one side of the problem. Yes, government bogs the whole system down. But many of the workers within truly care about their work during disasters. They deal with many tears and sad stories

  7. As Joe said, there are always a few bad elements. Due to this, we were told to use a permanent marker on all the expensive items (large boxes of diapers, 50-pound bags of dog food, heavy duty shovels, etc.) and either write ‘Flood’ on them or mark out the UPC Code because we were told that some were getting the items and taking them to Walmart for cash. Sorry state of things for sure. Pat’s comment most reminded me of the most of the people I saw. They did NOT want to come to the distribution center. They were proud people and didn’t want handouts. A few came for a case or two of water, but I heard them saying ‘we don’t want to be here for these giveaways, we just need some water or we wouldn’t be here at all.’ As you said, neighbor helping neighbor, and the churches with an open-door policy were the main assets. I don’t mean to downplay the importance of the Red Cross or to those who donated items. The groups of people who came to help clean (on the approved list) were permitted to take whatever they needed from the distribution center to help with the project at hand, i.e., shovels, masks, etc. Countless people were helped. Unfortunately, Red Tape seems to stick its ugly head into nearly every pot these days.

  8. where exactly do you get all the warm & fuzzies from the CERT program? …. each differs from location and leadership – and some have personnel membership that should chill you to the bone with worry & trepidation … talking about gooberment interference – if there’s going to be local confiscation of personal property it’ll be thru that agency – they know the local “lay of the land” and “where the bodies are buried” ….

  9. I don’t know where Illini Warrior is from, but when I volunteered for CERT in Northern, VA after 9/11 volunteers were subject to an FBI fingerprint and background check as well as a local record check. The procedure was the same for Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, Medical Reserve Corps, and we also required it of Red Cross Disaster Services personnel to ensure they were no convicted felons, registered sex offenders, etc. Volunteers MUST be cleared and vetted by the served agency before they can be assigned to work at a public shelter, fire or police station, school, county warehouse, etc. Volunteers were probationary until they had completed required training at the Fire Academy and upon graduation were issued with a government photo ID so that public safety personnel would know that they were trained, had been properly vetted and could be trusted with their assigned responsibilities. Annual recertification at the fire academy was required to maintain the credential.

    1. That is why in the future a lot of us will just skip the gooberment associated organizations and just do our own thing. As far as I know you can’t fingerprint me or require certification if I don’t associate with those organizations.

  10. A few years back I happened to be visiting family in an area hit by a 500 year flood. Houses swept off their foundations; people, pets and livestock washed away. Entire towns were under water, roads impassable. The damage was mind-boggling. Where I was staying was well above the flood but we all went to help those in trouble as soon as possible. What impressed me was the response of the community. Naturally, the emergency responders were overwhelmed but every church, fraternal group, community centers all opened their doors and set up shelters for the dispossessed. Groceries emptied their shelves at no charge to provide food which was cooked by various ladies’ auxiliaries, church, fire department, etc.. Local farmers and others supplied more food. Contractors arrived with backhoes and bulldozers to clear debris so flood waters could drain and to shore up banks or divert the water flow. Farmers came with bucket-loading tractors to haul away debris as well. Blankets, clothing, and much more were all donated by the community members. Eventually the Red Cross, Emergency Management, and the Army Corps of Engineers arrived and went about trying to stop the community effort, citing safety issues and stream disturbances, some volunteers threatened with arrest or fines. The volunteers ignored them and had everything under control before the bureaucrats could unpack and set up shop. I have no doubt that losses would have been far greater had the community waited for the “professionals” to save them.

  11. Noah, great article. I moved from Louisiana many years ago but I still have family and friends there. I have heard many horror stories about the Red Cross and their shenanigans. This is what I know; the people of Louisiana are proud and self-sufficient. When you get away from NOLA, you will find friends and strangers who will put their own lives in danger to help their neighbors. My opinion, take care of your own preparations. Anyone who thinks they can rely on any organization or the government to take care of them are not thinking clearly. I choose to be prepared. I choose to be self-sufficient. Please continue with stories like these, so everyone will know just what is happening there.

    1. as the saying goes ” if you want to know if you should trust the government, ask a Native”….nope, I don’t trust them……where I live, we help each other…..

  12. My family and friends lost everything in Louisiana. It’s horrible the way things are happening there. My family member didn’t have toiletries and other things. Know first hand one of our dear friends went to donate their time, food, cook, clothes, clean. The red cross refused the food and threw the clothing in the trash for the victims because they aren’t on the list. People in Louisiana are taking care of their own but they sure could use lots of help but government is interfering. I am following Cajun Navy 2016 on Facebook they are getting things done by people contacting them and social media. In Baton Rouge people need trash pick up severely. They are living in tents, fema trailers, and just outside because they can’t live in their houses because of mold. It’s tragic people’s lives are shoveled to the curbs once was their treasures and now it’s their treasures in the trash. We are going down there soon to visit family but also to bring all the items we have for those in need. People need food, fans, tents, cleaning supplies, I am sure they are going to get real sick soon if they don’t pick up the trash that’s been there for 5 weeks. There isn’t any hotels because the female is staying in the rooms so people were asked to leave. It’s just tragic.

  13. I won’t donate one penny to the Red Cross ! They stuck it to us after the Cedar Fire in 2003 , in San Diego. Yeah, when their CEO makes multi millions ? I don’t think so !

  14. While reading the articles and comments above, something hit me… if we bottle or repackage food, then it can’t be confiscated because it wasn’t produced in a certified kitchen and is therefore ‘useless’.

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