Sen. Brown urges President Biden to declare East Palestine a disaster
Sen. Sherrod Brown today sent a letter to President Joe Biden and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urging them to declare the East Palestine derailment that happened Feb. 3 a federal disaster.
According to a news release from Brown's office, the U.S. senator called on FEMA to approve Gov. Mike DeWine’s Major Disaster Declaration request to unlock additional resources from the federal government that can help address ongoing needs in East Palestine.
Brown also called on the Biden administration to lay out what additional steps the federal government can take to assist those still suffering from the Norfolk Southern derailment.
“The people of this community had their lives overturned by 53 train cars and the negligence of a corporation that cut safety to enrich its bottom line," Brown said in the letter. "These Ohioans and their neighbors in Pennsylvania have experienced trauma that no American should ever have to experience. It’s our responsibility to do everything possible to help them recover."
In the letter, the senator also cites the ongoing concerns residents have living in East Palestine, this includes concerns about the quality of the air in their homes or the impact of basement groundwater exposure. He also claims many are facing a range of health symptoms that could be connected to the derailment.
He also says that residents do not believe Norfolk Southern will do right by them and compensate them for the damage caused by the derailment, including covering healthcare costs.
The senator asks the president and FEMA to provide assistance programs like the Individuals and Households Program, Crisis Counseling Program, the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program, Disaster Legal Services, and Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance.
"A disaster of this scale, scope, and significance necessitates a response and deployment of resources that are commensurate in scale and scope," Brown says in the letter. "These residents need federal resources to help them get back on their feet, and any delay of these resources will have a direct, negative impact on the recovery efforts."
You can read Brown's full letter below: