Bethenny Frankel talks B Strong's disaster relief efforts in Louisiana, how she navigates around red tape

Bethenny Frankel talks B Strong's disaster relief efforts in Louisiana, how she navigates around red tape

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When Bethenny Frankel knows a major storm is approaching, she immediately kicks into overdrive planning so her disaster relief initiative, B Strong, can reach people seeking relief and aid. 

Currently, the entrepreneur is in the midst of helping Louisiana residents rebuild their lives after Hurricane Ida hit in late August. So far, Frankel’s initiative has brought $1.5 million in much-needed gift cards, bank cards, and critical supplies to communities without power, water, and shelter. 

In partnership with Global Empowerment Mission and US Carrier, Frankel’s B Strong has helped victims of disasters in the U.S. and around the world.

Frankel spoke with Fox News about how aid is prioritized, how she navigates around and through local, federal, and foreign governments, and her future plans for B Strong as major storms and disasters seem to become more frequent.

“It’s very challenging to get aid to where it needs to get to. The plan needs to be very well thought out and organized,” Frankel admitted. “We’re already prepared before disaster strikes. So we have a warehouse that looks like a Costco. The merchandise is all labeled from medical supplies to pet supplies to hygiene to lumber to generators.”

Bethenny Frankel spoke with Fox News about her B Strong: Disaster Relief initiative. 
(John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Frankel said when Ida hit, she organized a drive a first that helped over 2,000 people by supplying survival kits and food made possible through donations from companies like Goya.

Then, Frankel said she gives out cash cards “which were given to people who really have lost everything.”

“A lot of the disasters that happen in the Caribbean, in the Bahamas, in Florida or in Louisiana and Haiti, and we can get there easily. We also have a big warehouse in Miami, which is a great shipping port. Or use trucks depending on where the disaster is… if it’s a place we really can access easily we can make a massive impact,” she said.

Frankel further explained B Strong’s use of social media to get aid directly into people’s hands. “People on social media are the ones who help direct us to what’s going on,” she said. “I don’t pretend I can save the world when I don’t know what’s going on yet.”

She recalled how when Hurricane Harvey hit Puerto Rico in 2017, she was connected with nurses on Twitter and was meeting local people on the airport tarmac handing out life-saving supplies. 

“We just sort of went in with chartered planes and then we got the respect of the mayors, of the communities, of the government, of officials, because people were happy that we were helping,” she explained. “We’re respectful of the government and then you’re able to [build] relationships. Now we go back to the same places and we know a lot of people who run the churches and the mayors. It’s like a puzzle every time. We navigate.”

Frankel prefers taking an “unofficial role” in providing relief because being she feels it’s substantially harder being “shackled” by a lot of red tape. “You can’t make a move without asking everybody [and] then you can’t function,” she reasoned as disaster conditions require urgency. 

The producer says B Strong stays politically neutral because when there’s a mess “everyone needs to pick up a broom.”

“We get a lot of money from Republicans. We get money and awareness from Democrats,” she said. “That’s just the fact of the matter.”

She recalled helping former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio obtain PPE (personal protective equipment) when masks and other supplies were impossible to find in the first few months of the pandemic. 

“We literally sent over a million dollars in hazmat suits to Andrew Cuomo in Albany and sent three hundred thousand dollars in masks to de Blasio. So we don’t work for them. We’re unofficial. They worked with us. They trusted us. It happened. We got the money. We transacted, but we’re not employed by them. I like [the process] to be unofficially official. I cannot work in any capacity with shackles on even in my business,” Frankel insisted.

The businesswoman is proud of B Strong’s growth over the past few years. She said, “I do what I’m passionate about and I try to execute. I try to do things well and I don’t take on things that I can’t.”

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