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The Red Cross didn’t even have to call for volunteers last night after Amtrak 188 derailed near Port Richmond. The 45 or so volunteers that make up its disaster action team showed up on their own, waiting to receive word on how they could help.
“They were ready to assist,” says Anthony Tornetta, director of communications for the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region.
As of 11 a.m. today, the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter has helped about 75 people involved in the crash. The volunteers have provided counseling and have helped transport train passengers to meet with their families. The Red Cross is in the process of setting up a reunification center at the Marriott on 12th and Market streets that should be ready today.
— Nico Cisneros (@nicoyaknow) May 13, 2015
While the Amtrak 188 crash provides a challenge of great magnitude, the Red Cross has dealt with other severe disasters the last couple years. Tornetta says many volunteers descended upon the West Chester area this winter for an ice storm that “froze entire towns.” In 2012, Philadelphia Red Cross volunteers helped people affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Red Cross is active just about every night in Philadelphia, too. Tornetta says volunteers assist victims in about five to seven fires on a nightly basis. In 2013-14, the Red Cross of the Eastern Pennsylvania Region responded to 834 disasters, housed 1,071 people and provided financial assistance to 3,420 people.
If you want to help out the Red Cross, Tornetta says that while you can donate money, you should absolutely apply to volunteer on their website. It might be too late to directly help with the Amtrak crash, but Tornetta says the organization always needs more people to give their time.