FEMA Takes Action Hours After News Breaks of Trump's Planned Visit to Ohio Disaster Site
On Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave Ohio the cold shoulder when it requested assistance for the troubled town of East Palestine, where a train wreck and resulting chemical spill have spurred fears of grave contamination.
Then on Friday, two things happened.
First, former President Donald Trump announced that he would be making a visit to East Palestine, a trip guaranteed to bring hordes of media representatives to the community.
Then, on Friday night, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that FEMA had experienced a change of heart, according to WKBN-TV.
“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.”
In a post on his Truth Social platform, Trump noted the coincidence.
A source familiar confirms to Fox News that former President Trump will visit East Palestine, OH on Wednesday to tour the damage of the Norfolk Southern derailment and cleanup efforts.
— Garrett Tenney (@Garrett_FoxNews) February 17, 2023
“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.
East Palestine’s troubles began on Feb. 3, when about 50 cars of a Norfolk Southern train derailed, according to the Associated Press. About 20 cars carried hazardous substances, officials said. A mass evacuation was ordered two days later after officials decided to burn off the vinyl chloride in the cars, which sent phosgene, which is toxic, and hydrogen chloride into the air, according to the Associated Press.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, America came together to support our recovery in SWFL & we are still rebuilding.
East Palestine also deserves our support.
Watching this tragedy unfold & the ineptitude of the federal response demonstrates Congressional oversight is needed. pic.twitter.com/nvxBrcPojW
— Congressman Byron Donalds (@RepDonaldsPress) February 18, 2023
A plume of black smoke hung over the town for several days before residents were allowed back.
But despite official statements that the air was fine, residents experienced symptoms that includes 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.”
It took 30 minutes to develop a rash and feel nauseated, she said.
“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.
Since then, she has made two abbreviated trips to the house.
“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.
DeWine said tests show no pollution, but reality shows residents have fears and symptoms.
“We know that the science says that East Palestine is safe, but we also know that residents are very worried,” DeWine said, according to Newsweek. “They are asking themselves ‘Is my headache just a headache? Or is it a result of the chemical spill? Are other medical symptoms caused by the spill?’ Those are very legitimate questions and residents deserve answers.”
Erin Haynes, chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Kentucky, told CNN that finding the answer is “a major challenge.”
“The community is now exposed to a mixture of numerous petroleum-based volatile organic compounds, so it may not just be one, it could be the mixture of them,” Haynes said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.