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"I want the same treatment for all individuals:" Mayor Tom Barrett met with Red Cross following policy expansion

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett met with the American Red Cross after it extended a policy that would not provide on-site volunteers to house fires in 10 Milwaukee zip code areas. 

On Sunday, Red Cross announced it would meet disaster victims at their office, 2600 W. Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee or at four designated Milwaukee Police and Fire Department locations. 

"We want to make sure people are treated the same, regardless of where they live," said Mayor Tom Barrett. 

The topic of race did come up in the meeting since these areas are in predominately African American and Hispanic communities. 

"The issue of race certainly came up and we need to make sure that low-income families who are the victims of fires that they also receive the treatment that others receive," said Barrett. 

Barrett met with the agency's Chief Executive Director Patty Flower, who released this statement over the weekend:

"This new procedure is based on an assessment of where the majority of fires occur, surveying volunteer disaster responders, and through meetings with the Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments and Red Cross leadership to determine the best way to manage the needs of the community."

During the meeting, Barrett said the changes were made due to a lack of volunteers. 

“This is a temporary solution. I think underlying message from all of this is the need for volunteers," said Barrett. 

Barrett mentioned after the meeting other zip codes would be affected. CBS 58 reached out to the Red Cross, the organization is currently working to release that new information. 

Below is the full statement from the Red Cross: 

Every year, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters around the country, most of which are home fires. This is not changing in Wisconsin. The Red Cross will continue to help any person in need after a home fire, regardless of their zip code.

When home fires occur, the Red Cross works to put some kind of normalcy toward very difficult and challenging situations, and our intention is to provide safe and warm locations for those affected by home fires to get out of the elements and receive Red Cross assistance as soon as possible.

In Milwaukee, the American Red Cross has partnered with the Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments, who have offered four of their locations to support those impacted by home fires to receive Red Cross assistance, meet with Red Cross teams in person, and help to start their recovery process in a warm and safe environment; another of these locations includes the Red Cross office at 2600 W. Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee. The Red Cross will ensure transportation is available if needed. This new procedure is based on an assessment of where the majority of fires occur, surveying volunteer disaster responders, and through meetings with the Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments and Red Cross leadership to determine the best way to manage the needs of the community.

Each American Red Cross region around the country operates independently, but within national Red Cross guidelines, and operations are adjusted to fit the needs of those we serve and the local community. Other cities, communities and rural areas throughout the country may also adjust their procedures accordingly for helping fire victims, but Red Cross services have a primary goal to help families in need.

We will always respond and assist anyone who has a house fire. Since December 22, we have assisted at five fires under this new procedure. All families were taken care of and we will work with them in the weeks ahead to ensure they can recover. Based on this success, we plan to expand this new procedure to other parts of Milwaukee and throughout the state of Wisconsin beginning in January, 2018.



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