The American Red Cross had a busy December in Philadelphia. The group responded to 20 percent more fires or other disasters last month.
Donna Palmeri is Chief Operating Officer of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the organization. She says the number of house fires was up considerably, possibly because long-term unemployment is forcing more families to crowd in with relatives.
“A family of four or five has now turning into a extended family of eight or nine and that puts a stress on a lot of these old homes where the electricity just wasn’t meant to be used by that many people and a lot of things plugged into outlets and the older homes just don’t have the amps to manage it,” said Palmeri.
Palmeri says the Red Cross sees people at the worst time of their lives. “Picture yourself at two o’clock in the morning you’re in your jammies, you probably don’t have any clothes on your back you don’t even have a winter coat, how are you going to get that assistance?” she said.
Palmeri says responding to one fire in Pottstown cost the group $35,000.