Local Red Cross responds to particularly high number of disasters in past month

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PHILADELPHIA – January 10, 2014 – While there is usually an increase in fires this time of year due to the cold temperatures, the last month was unusually busy for disasters. The American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) responded to 101 local disasters, assisted 358 people in all between December 10th and January 10th. Just in Philadelphia, the Red Cross responded 77 times during the month to assist 257 people with emergency needs like food, clothing, winter coats, shoes, medications and lodging. Red Cross SEPA cannot say exactly how this month ranks in terms of number of responses, but it is clearly one of the busiest 32 day span in recent memory.

During the busy month, Red Cross House – The Center for Disaster Recovery provided shelter and meals to 33 new families, 87 people displaced by disaster. There have been nine days during the month that the Red Cross House has been filled to capacity.

American Red Cross SEPA also assists with disaster dispatch for the Western and Northeastern Pennsylvania regions as well as the National Capital Region covering much of the DC Metro area. The Regional Disaster Coordination Center in Philadelphia dispatched volunteers in those regions to 204 separate disasters between December 10th and January 10th.

Among the fires over this time span; six fires over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the multi-home fire in Norristown. “We typically see a sharp rise in the number of fires when the temperatures drop due to unsafe use of heaters, use of improper heating sources such as ovens and too many decorations plugged into outlets,” said SEPA CEO, Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes. “It’s important for everyone to be fire safe in their homes to help avoid such disasters.”

Despite the high number of responses, SEPA will be able to continue to provide the same level of disaster relief services as it always has, thanks to the ongoing generous support from individuals, corporations, and foundations. Without them, the work SEPA did in this past month and year round, would not be possible.

For tips on being fire safe, to volunteer, or make a donation, log onto redcrossphilly.org.

For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact Dave Schrader at (215) 299-4042.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org, redcrossphilly.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross or @redcrossphilly.