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One of the Busiest Days of Response in SEPA Chapter history

red cross disaster volunteer watches fire department put out fire in philadelphia
We provided a safe place to stay as well as breakfast and counseling to anyone needing it.

April 9, 2012 will go down in history as one of the busiest days of response for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross in recent history. In a 24 hour period, our employees and dedicated volunteers responded to 13 disasters around the region to provide shelter, food, clothing, and/or counseling to more than 250 people affected by these disasters. More than 30 SEPA employees and volunteers responded this day to help.

The day began early in Philadelphia when a vacant warehouse went up in flames around 3 in the morning. Heavy winds and dry conditions fueled the flames and this fire spread to neighboring businesses and homes. Red Cross was called in to man a comfort center for evacuated residents. We provided a safe place to stay as well as breakfast and counseling to anyone needing it. About 25 people spent the morning in our care.

Tragedy struck during this fire as two Philadelphia firemen lost their lives during the response. The Philadelphia Fire Department is an important partner of SEPA Chapter and our CEO Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes offers these words to those lost and their families.

In the end, two homes were too severely damaged for residents to return to and SEPA Chapter assisted 2 families with financial help for food, clothing and lodging including staying at Red Cross House.

Throughout the day, SEPA was called to respond to 5 more single family house fires in Philadelphia. We provided services to 6 families, 27 people affected by these fires. Some were also sent to Red Cross House.

The surrounding counties also fell victim to fires this day. It started with a 2-alarm apartment fire in Montgomery County. Residents of the Abrams Run Apartments near the King of Prussia Mall were assisted by our Disaster Action Team from Montgomery County. In all, we helped 9 families, 23 people displaced by that fire.

Volunteers in Montgomery County also helped a family of 3 people displaced by a single family home fire.

At the same time, alarms in Chester, Delaware and Bucks counties were going off. Our Disaster Action Teams sprang into motion to respond to a fire in each county. We helped 5 families, 11 people affected by those fires.

And the day ended with a massive response in Chester County where firefighters from around the region assembled to fight a massive forest fire in Berks County, spreading toward Chester County. Volunteers from Chester County met up with employees from SEPA Chapter Headquarters to set up a shelter for more than 165 firefighters in Elverson, PA. This shelter will remain as long as it’s needed.

We want to thank all of the volunteers who took time to respond on this challenging day, we can’t fulfill the mission of the Red Cross without dedicated people like you. We also cannot do this important work without donations. If you would like to make a donation to help local disaster response, please click on the donate tab. If you would like to become a volunteer for your local Red Cross, click on the Get involved tab.

Special thanks to this full list of volunteers and SEPA Chapter employees for their dedicated work on such a trying day of response. Some of these people responded to more than one disaster this day.

1.John Barnett

2.Andy Brakman

3.Kevin Collette

4.Dan Crain

5.Eliot Dalton, Jr

6.Debbie DeRito

7.Patrick Fulton, Sr

8.Yasmin George

9.Judi Gerhart

10.Denise Graf

11.Noel Green

12.Judge Renée Cardwell Hughes, CEO*

13.Raymond Jefferis, PhD

14.Terry Johnson*

15.Chad Lassiter*

16.Andrea Leach

17.Irvin Lichtenstein

18.Joe Luzckowski

19.Charles McElroy

20.Sean McGarry*

21.Dave Natale*

22.Mary Noll

23.Gort Randall

24.Clifton Salas, COO*

25.Mark Savukinas

26.Robert Schmidt

27.Dave Schrader*

28.Berry Smith

29.Phyllis Taylor

30.Deborah Tischler

31.Sandra Verdiani

32.Kim Weber

33.Pat Wisch

* SEPA Chapter employee

About the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania

The American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. The Red Cross is not a government agency. All Red Cross assistance is free of charge. Financial contributions are always welcomed and needed and can be made by going to

Contact: Dave Schrader (215) 299-4042 or after hours (215) 299-4889,