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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Questions arise: Disaster group removes director

  • Tonia Allen, a Texas woman involved in the tornado relief efforts in Steelman Estates, has been removed as the Oklahoma and Texas director of America’s Disaster Relief while that non-profit volunteer organization asks questions of her about missing documentation, including receipts and contracts to account for more than $70,000.
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  • Tonia Allen, a Texas woman involved in the tornado relief efforts in Steelman Estates, has been removed as the Oklahoma and Texas director of America’s Disaster Relief while that non-profit volunteer organization asks questions of her about missing documentation, including receipts and contracts to account for more than $70,000.
    A letter directed to Allen, which was posted publicly, was signed by Jan France, who has been CEO of America’s Disaster Relief for the past 12 years.
    In that notice, Allen was told she was being removed from anything to do with America’s Disaster Relief as of July 10, with that organization giving her until this Friday, July 18, to provide all the missing receipts and documentation that they have been requesting from her for several months.
    “This has not brought me any joy, but only sorrow that this has happened, but you have left America’s Disaster Relief no other choice,” France wrote about the decision.
    “It was with a heavy heart this action was taken, it saddens all of us beyond words and was not done lightly,” France added in a follow-up statement.
    “The reputation of America’s Disaster Relief has been sterling to this point, we are full disclosure and do not wish to be misrepresented in actions or words,” she said. “Thousands and thousands of dollars of building materials have been donated to those in Oklahoma by America’s Disaster Relief to rebuild their lives following the tornadoes.”
    At this time, she said America’s Disaster Relief is in “recovery mode itself.”
    France said they have been more than fair giving Allen extra time to get the paper work and the receipts submitted to them.
    “She has helped many people, and we want to give her every opportunity to clear this up. She has until July 18th to do so.”
    According to the letter, Allen previously held the title of director for both the Oklahoma and Texas branches with that relief organization. And while France begins the letter telling Allen she has helped many Oklahoma families for which she is to be commended, it also outlines some serious concerns and questions about missing receipts and contracts, as well as questions about two overdrawn bank accounts.
    Allen joined ADR in August 2013 to be the director of Oklahoma, for which she signed an agreement and opened a bank account for rebuilding homes of tornado victims in this area, with all Oklahoma funds raised in Oklahoma to stay in Oklahoma, it reads.
    In October 2013, when the organization needed a director for Texas, the letter shows Allen, who lives in Texas, stepped up to fill that position as well, with France indicating all Texas funds were to stay in Texas.
    Page 2 of 2 - France outlines in the letter that all paperwork for disaster services, such as receipts, contracts and donations, was to be documented and turned in to ADR on a quarterly basis. It reads that Allen was given until Jan. 15, 2014 to turn in paperwork for the time period from August to December 2013, but those documents didn’t get turned in until March 5, 2014, the letter shows, noting that the submission was incomplete as many receipts and contracts were missing.
    “That was March — this is now July and we have not received any more receipts or accounting from you after almost daily asking for them for months,” France continued in the letter. “All I hear is excuses after excuses — drama after drama — but no receipts, contracts, paperwork of any kind.”
    France also outlined she is seeking answers to many questions, such as why there is more than $70,000 unaccounted for in the Oklahoma account and why $14,000 in Oklahoma funds were transferred to the Texas account.
    She also includes a list of other issues and writes that both the Oklahoma and Texas bank accounts “have been drained” and are overdrawn. And while some tornado homes are being rebuilt, two waiting families have given $70,000, which should still be in the bank, France wrote.
    France, who resides in Florida, said ADR, which has donors around the nation, is about full disclosure and they will continue to do that, which is why the letter and these issues are being made public.
    The News-Star attempted several times to contact Allen on her cell phone for comments on the letter and the questions being raised, but only received a recording saying her phone is not accepting calls. A text message also went unreturned.
    There’s been no word of any formal investigation regarding the questions being raised.
    America’s Disaster Relief operates in many states, including Florida, Alabama, Kansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York, and has assisted families affected by many major disasters, including Super Storm Sandy, along with tornado and wildfire disasters in many states.
    More about the non-profit organization can be found at: www.wcdisasterrelief.org.
    Watch for updates.
     
     

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