Searching for answers in the rubble of the disaster at Windermere Court.
There’s another rumor that ex-residents bribed maintenance men and security guards to retrieve some of their possessions.
When asked who had decision-making authority between the third and fifth week after the fire, Reimert isn’t sure.
“I would have to check into that for you because I’m not clear on that timeline myself,” she said.
This morning, Reimert issued a statement: "I know that the owners are especially pleased that a recovery effort was able to happen last week and that they were able, by working with a demolition crew at their own expense, to get important belongings back into the hands of well over 50 tenants. With that process now complete, the owners are again working in conjunction with the City and others to confirm an appropriate schedule for the demolition of the building and that is expected to be determined this week."
With animals involved, the blame-game circle widens.
Not every cat owner was as lucky as former resident Michelle Kreisher, who says she’s grateful firefighter Jones was able to rescue her cat Norman one of two sweeps the firemen did of the building after the blaze.
No one is sure exactly how many pet cats were missing after the fire, but City Kitties says they have been notified of at least eleven.
The brunt of the blame on the street is split between the PSPCA and Philadelphia’s County Animal Rescue Team (PHL-CART). PHL-CART is the local chapter of a statewide program established and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricane Katrina.
Every county in Pennsylvania has a CART organization. Even though the state administrative umbrella (SART) is a non-profit organization, the local chapter is managed by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM).
Jen Leary, local coordinator for PHL-CART, says she received many calls and emails the night of the fire from people expecting CART to intervene, as they do in Bucks and Montgomery counties.
“I did receive numerous calls and emails from people who expected CART to be able to help but we cannot self deploy,” says Leary.
The first problem is that even though PHL-CART was established a few years ago, it really only exists mostly on paper still. “We’re still very much in process of recruiting volunteers,” concedes Samantha Phillips, Assistant Management Director of the OEM, who oversees PHL-CART.
But to clarify, Phillips says that even if CART was up and running, the organization would not have been on the scene at Windermere.
“CART wasn’t involved because the number of animals that were identified at the Windermere fire is something that PSPCA could have handled,” says Phillips.
In other words, because CART is managed under the city, and the city employs an animal control contract, PSPCA as the animal control vendor is the first responder. She says the role of PHL-CART is to provide an emergency animal-rescue plan designed for catastrophic-level disaster as big as Katrina, not a fire in an apartment complex. (Though Phillips says the plan exists, it is not public.)
“It would take a lot to further overwhelm PSCPA and Animal Care and Control Team and since they’re 24/7 and have the resources available to respond to 99 percent of the emergency responses we have in Philadelphia, they are the first line in emergency animal care,” says Phillips.
But PSPCA says protocol is the other way around.
“I would disagree,” says Wendy Marano, PSPCA spokesperson. “We have to be summoned by someone and it’s the fire department or police or OEM.”
“Our folks are pretty clear about this,” continues Marano. “One of the things they have to worry about on site is the flurry of activity and the spectators. With all that going on, the last thing we would want to do as an organization is come in and add to the chaos.”
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