DeWine asks White House for disaster declaration in East Palestine
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has sent a request to President Biden officially asking the White House to "issue a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration relating to the Norfolk Southern train derailment and release of hazardous chemicals that occurred in East Palestine."
According to a release from the governor's office, today was the last day the governor could have made the request, as July 3rd was the last day of a 120-day extension granted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the State of Ohio to make such a request, beyond the 30 days granted by FEMA after a disaster occurs.
DeWine's office says that "FEMA has consistently advised that such assistance would likely not be granted because of no unmet needs reported to the state. The voluntary actions of Norfolk Southern have to date reimbursed citizens and state and local governments for costs associated with damage incurred due to the train derailment."
FEMA, according to federal law, provides aid to communities for property damage not covered by insurance or another entity.
The concern, according to the governor's office, is that Norfolk Southern's voluntary contributions may not last as long as the community continues to face repercussions and side effects resulting from the disaster.
A Major Presidential Disaster Declaration would allow the Governor to continue requesting aid from FEMA after voluntary contributions from Norfolk Southern end. If Norfolk Southern stopped providing aid and this request were not filed, it would be difficult if not impossible for the State of Ohio to request further aid from federal officials.
The request for a declaration also satisfies wide requests and protest from the community for DeWine to act and ask for the declaration.
No formal response has yet been issued by the White House, but 21 News will continue to monitor for a response and update the community when one becomes available.