Feds give DeWine more time to ponder disaster declaration in East Palestine
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given Ohio Governor until July 3 to decide if he'll ask President Biden to issue a disaster declaration for East Palestine.
Citing residents reporting “troubling medical conditions” and “continuing impacts and the complexities” since the February 3 Norfolk Southern derailment, DeWine was granted a 120-day extension to submit a request for the declaration late last week.
Governor DeWine announced his intent to file for the extension on February 17, after learning that the East Palestine disaster did not qualify for traditional FEMA aid.
Spokesman for DeWine, Dan Tierney told 21 News on February 16 that under federal law, FEMA assists disaster-stricken communities pay for property damage not covered by insurance or another entity.
Tierney says that the derailment did not cause major property damage in the village, and at the time, Norfolk Southern had been paying for environmental testing and other needs like bottled water.
In the FEMA letter, DeWine said there are concerns about air and water impacted by the chemicals released during the derailment and subsequent controlled burn of chemicals in five of the tankers.
Without the extension, the window to declare a disaster and qualify for aid from FEMA would have expired thirty days after the derailment.
”Although we previously requested and received technical assistance from FEMA to assist in incident management, I now request, due to the continuing impacts and the complexities of this incident, a 120-day extension to submit a request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to properly assess the impacts of this incident,” DeWine wrote in the letter.