Former President Donald Trump will in the coming days visit East Palestine, Ohio, where a train carrying hazardous materials derailed this month.
Trump indicated he would arrive at the small town on the Pennsylvania border on Wednesday, according to a statement released by his 2024 presidential campaign. The statement chided President Joe Biden’s administration for appearing to flip-flop on providing disaster assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“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,” Trump said. “I’ll see you on Wednesday!”
FEMA initially told Ohio the Norfolk Southern freight train derailment did not qualify for federal disaster aid, but noted the Department of Health and Human Services would provide assistance to residents needing medical care due to the toxic spill.
But by Friday, Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) released a joint statement with FEMA Regional Administrator Thomas Sivak, announcing FEMA aid would be on the way.
“FEMA and the State of Ohio have been in constant contact regarding emergency operations in East Palestine,” the joint statement said. “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.”
The train derailment happened on February 3. Locals and elected officials have been raising health concerns after authorities conducted what they said was a controlled burn of hazardous chemicals, meant to deter a large explosion. The fire prompted a temporary evacuation and created a large plume of smoke.
Since the fire went out on February 8, the Environment Protection Agency says its air monitoring “has not detected any levels of health concern in the community that are attributed to the train derailment.”
DeWine’s office said Friday testing results from East Palestine’s municipal water source have determined that municipal drinking water is safe to drink, but urged locals who get their water from private wells to bottled water until their water is tested.
Trump won Ohio in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. Biden has said he intends to run for re-election, but the Democrat has not formally declared his candidacy.