On Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency turned down Ohio’s request for assistance for the troubled town of East Palestine, where a train wreck and resulting chemical spill have raised concerns about serious contamination.
Two new developments took place on Friday, First, former President Donald Trump announced that he would be visiting East Palestine, bringing with him a swarm of media representatives, according to The Western Journal.
Then, according to WKBN-TV, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced on Friday night that FEMA had changed its mind.
“FEMA and the State of Ohio have been in constant contact regarding emergency operations in East Palestine.
“U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA have been working together since day one. Tomorrow, FEMA will supplement federal efforts by deploying a Senior Response Official along with a Regional Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to support ongoing operations, including incident coordination and ongoing assessments of potential long-term recovery needs,” DeWine said in a joint statement with FEMA regional administrator Thomas Sivak.
On Thursday, DeWine had said on Twitter that “FEMA continues to advise that Ohio is not eligible for assistance at this time.” Trump mentioned the coincidence in a post on his Truth Social platform.
“Biden and FEMA said they would not be sending federal aid to East Palestine. As soon as I announced that I’m going, he announced a team will go. Hopefully he will also be there. This is good news because we got them to “move.” The people of East Palestine need help. I’ll see you on Wednesday!” Trump posted Saturday.
According to the Associated Press, East Palestine’s problems began on Feb. 3 when about 50 cars of a Norfolk Southern train derailed.
Officials indicated that approximately 20 cars contained hazardous substances. According to the Associated Press, a mass evacuation was ordered two days later after officials decided to burn off the vinyl chloride in the cars, which released toxic phosgene and hydrogen chloride into the air.
Before residents were allowed to return, a plume of black smoke hung over the town for several days.
Residents speak out
Despite official statements to the contrary, residents reported symptoms such as rashes and headaches.
“When we went back on the 10th, that’s when we decided that we couldn’t raise our kids here,” Amanda Greathouse said according to CNN, adding that her house had an odor that “reminded me of hair perming solution.”
According to her, it took 30 minutes to develop a rash and feel nauseated: “When we left, I had a rash on my skin on my arm, and my eyes were burning for a few days after that,” Greathouse, who has two pre-school children, said.
“The chemical smell was so strong that it made me nauseous. I just wanted to quickly pick up what I needed and leave. I only took a few pieces of clothes because even the clothes smelled like chemicals, and I’m afraid to put them on my kids,” she said.